Joe Newman at Count Basie's is the first record the underappreciated trumpeter cut after leaving the Basie Band for the second time. The 1961 session was cut live at his former employer's club in front of a noisy, appreciative audience and features Newman and his young band (Oliver Nelson on tenor, Art Davis on bass, Lloyd Mayers on piano and Ed Shaughnessy on drums) cutting loose on a mix of standards and Newman originals. The record kicks off with a roaring version of "Caravan" featuring some fine soloing from Newman and Nelson, strolls through relaxed versions of "Love Is Here to Stay" and "Someone to Love," both of which spotlight Newman's bright tone and swinging approach, and picks up some serious steam on the charging Newman tune "The Midgets." The last two songs are the highlights of the record with "On Green Dolphin Street" showcasing Nelson's lyrical and searing soloing and the Newman original "Wednesday's Blues" letting the trumpeter get very down and dirty with Nelson following him note for note. It is a truly inspired track and ends the record on a high note. While this record may have seemed like the beginning of a great solo career for Joe Newman, in fact it was his final session for a major label as a leader. The 2005 reissue on Verve marks the first time the record has been available on CD. It isn't an essential purchase for the casual jazz fan but Newman fans (and fans of great trumpeters) will be thrilled by its appearance.
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