This Count Basie entry in the NEA Jazz Masters series manages to blast through Basie's Decca and Verve catalog in around 36 minutes, beginning with "One O'Clock Jump" from 1937 and ending with "Teach Me Tonight" (featuring a vocal from Sammy Davis, Jr.) from 1964, making this an extremely brief introduction to the great bandleader. Still, it's hard to argue with the selections, which showcase the powerful energy of various Basie bands. Among the highlights are a version of "Jumpin' at the Woodside" from 1938, the great Joe Williams singing "Every Day I Have the Blues" in a version from 1955, and Ella Fitzgerald's bubbling take on "Honeysuckle Rose" from 1963. Obviously there's a lot more to the story, but as a quick introduction to Basie (who was the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award in 1983), this set will get your feet wet. Total immersion is recommended, though.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett