Count Basie

The Atomic Band Live in Europe

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There's no shortage of recordings of the Count Basie band on stage from this period, but at the same time, any new addition is always welcomed. The ten tracks here were taped live at shows by the so-called "Atomic Band" in Switzerland during 1959, three years before the Basie band's live swansong for Roulette Records, cut in concert in Sweden. It also only shares one number ("In a Mellotone") in common with Count Basie in Sweden. Another major difference is the presence of a bit more audience interaction--applause that isn't too obtrusive greets many of the solos and even some of the extraordinarily tight ensemble playing evident throughout this performance. As for the solos, Joe Newman and Al Wess are showcased on trumpet and flute ("The Midgets"), Al Grey's trombone gets the spotlight on "The Deacon," Basie's piano carries the middle of the shattering finale, "Old Man River," in lithe and riveting fashion -- preceding a dazzling solo by drummer Sonny Payne -- and even guitarist Freddie Green gets a rare chance to take center-stage in "Cute." The sound is clean and the recording completely professional, although the volume and presence here pale slightly in comparison to the Sweden live recording.

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