One O'Clock Jump: The Very Best of Count Basie is an excellent compilation made of 14 tunes recorded between 1936 and 1942, an interesting choice when one considers that the years of these performances begin with the historic recording of "Oh, Lady Be Good" issued in 1936 in the midst of the Depression and extend through to the title cut, which was recorded as America was enmeshed in WWII. Despite the country's problems, the swingin' blues of Basie lived on. These tunes represent an unusually creative and inspired period for the bandleader, who held nothing but aces in his personnel. Lester Young was making a name for himself during these years and got his nickname "Pres" from the Basie period. Other notables were bassist Walter Page, drummer Jo Jones, trombonist Dicky Wells, and trumpeter Buck Clayton, just to name a few. The great guitarist Freddie Green was a Basie regular, as were Sweets Edison and Buddy Tate. Singer Jimmy Rushing appeared with the Basie band and reinvented the role of the vocalist in big bands with his expressive and mighty blues roar as heard on "Goin' to Chicago Blues." This was dance music created to be accessible to audiences, but Basie could also swing the blues hard -- check the live version of "Moten Swing," "Lester Leaps In," "Miss Thing, Pt. 1" and "Pt. 2.," and even the edited version of "Jumpin' at the Woodside" that closes the set. This is hard and tough roots music with plenty of soul, grit, and sweat, as well as artistic prowess in the solos and arrangements. John Hammond himself produced the vast majority of these cuts, and Skippy Martin arranged them. Basie was a bandleader of killer instinct and an ear for both his musicians' strengths and his audience's fickle heart. This is an excellent collection for anyone interested in checking out why Basie remains one of the giants. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek