Count Basie

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There's no shortage of live Count Basie material from his Roulette years. This mid-priced 45-minute CD, however, draws from some odd material, cut live at a deejay's dance at the Americana Hotel in Miami in 1959 or two years later at Birdland, and only issued on a pair of limited-edition LPs long ago. Packaged in a most understated manner, it captures the so-called "Atomic Band" in some of its best moments, including a long, luxurious version of "Segue in C" that compares favorably with the one cut with the Ellington orchestra on Columbia, a rippling rendition of "Back to the Apple," an exultant "The Deacon" with killer solos by Thad Jones on trumpet and Al Grey on trombone, and a performance of "Whirly Bird" that soars and streaks across the sky. The only slight drawback is the sound, which isn't quite ideal -- these shows were recorded professionally, of course, but somehow the microphone placement wasn't ideal to capture the whole band at its most vivid all of the time. The audio also seems a tiny bit compressed, and the volume is a little low overall, although all of these difficulties can be solved with a few adjustments to your own controls.

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