• Pianist Dave Brubeck Biography | Teen Jazz Legend

    Pianist Dave Brubeck has been lauded as one of the most influential jazz artists of the 1950s and 60s. As cool jazz began to reach its prime, Brubeck succeeded in finding an audience for his more complex music (both tonally and time signature-wise).

    Born in Concord, California, on December 6, 1920, David Warren Brubeck was immersed in a musical environment from an early age. His mother was a classically trained pianist and both of his older brothers would become professional musicians. At the age of 4, he began piano lessons and with a good ear, he was able to hid the fact that he wasn’t good at reading music for quite some time (it wasn’t until he was in college that his teachers found out he couldn’t read music).

    In his teen years, Brubeck performed with a local dance band, but unlike many of his musician contemporaries, he continued through school to study veterinary medicine. He enrolled at the College of the Pacific in Stockton, California, playing locally to help pay for his education.

    During WWII, Brubeck was drafted into the army where he served under General George S. Patton. He was asked to play piano for troops by the Red Cross which saved him from having to fight in the Battle of the Bulge. He later formed a jazz group with fellow soldiers called “The Wolfpack.”

    After being honorably discharged in 1946, he re-enrolled in university at Mills College in Oakland, California where he studied with Darius Milhaud. This is arguably where Brubeck was inspired to incorporate unusual time signatures into his compositions.

    He debuted the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951 with Paul Desmond on sax, and a rotating rhythm section. In 1956, Joe Morello became the permanent drummer and in 1958, Eugene became the steady basis.

    The popularity of the group’s records led to their touring college campuses across the US. In 1954, Brubeck became the second jazz musician to grace the cover of Time Magazine (after Louis Armstrong).

    In 1959, Brubeck released his most adventurous and ambitious albums, “Time Out” which featured a collection of tunes written in unusual time signatures like 5/4 and 9/8. His label, Columbia, were worried about releasing the album, but thankfully they went through with the release. It sold more than a million copies (the first jazz album to do so), and it attained a position at #25 on the Pop Charts.

    He continued to do several projects, and even formed a fusion/rock group with his sons in the 1970s called Two Generations of Brubeck.

    Brubeck received several awards recognizing his contributions to jazz including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a lifetime achievement Grammy, a Smithsonian Medal, and at least five honorary degrees from universities around the world.

    He passed away from heart failure in 2012 on December 5. It was one day before what would have been in 92nd birthday. Some of his notable works include “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo à la Turk”.

    June 24, 2015 • Interviews • Views: 2195

  • Patrick Bradley Can You Hear Me Review

    Patrick Bradley released his latest and third album, Can You Hear Me, in September of 2014. With guests like Dave Koz, Jimmy Haslip, Rick Braun, and Eric Marienthal, the album is a collection of ten smooth and contemporary jazz tracks produced and arranged by Patrick Bradley and fellow keyboardist, Jeff Lorber.

    The opening cut, “All In”, is a smooth and mellow introduction to the album, with “Blue Skies,” following in a more fusion-JLF style. One of my favorite tracks from the project is “Catalan,” a funky and fusion driven tune with Marienthal on sax. I also enjoyed the ballads “Shoreline” and “Can You Hear Me”, the title track and album single, a heartfelt ballad with Dave Koz sharing the spotlight on soprano.

    Patrick Bradley made his debut on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts with Come Rain or Shine in 2006. His sophomore release, Under the Sun, arrived in 2006 achieving #6 on the SmoothJazz.com Indie Charts. He works at Whole Foods Market as the president of the Southern Pacific region in addition to his work as a professional musician and recording artist.

    Get Can You Hear Me on Amazon.

    Title: Can You Hear Me
    Artist: Patrick Bradley
    Date: September 23, 2014
    Genre: Jazz, Smooth Jazz
    Label: Patrick’s Song Factory


    01 All In
    02 Blue Skies
    03 North of Evermore
    04 Can You Hear Me
    05 Daylight
    06 Shoreline
    07 Catalan
    08 For Her
    09 Sierra
    10 Voyage

    Get Can You Hear Me on Amazon.

    May 11, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 2297

  • A Review of Indigo by Dan Siegel

    Pianist Dan Siegel’s latest solo release, Indigo, was released fall 2014. It includes a collection of ten original compositions in the jazz style.

    Accompanied by Yellowjackets veteran Will Kennedy on drums, Bob Sheppard on sax, guitarists Allen Hinds and Mike Miller, percussionist Lenny Castro, vibraphone player Craig Fundyga, and bassist Brian Bromberg, Siegel takes listeners on a journey across an array of soundscapes.

    The listening journey begins with “To Be Continued,” a mellow track with Sheppard’s fluid tenor playing taking the lead on melody. “Indigo” is a track that gets your head moving with the guitar on lead, and “Beyond” is next with a a beautifully written melody played by Dan Siegel with an acoustic guitar keeping accompaniment. “Spur of the Moment” has elements of the big band swing genre with it’s horn section playing around the melody.

    This is definitely an album I plan on keeping in my playlist for some time.

    Siegel shares production credit with Bromberg, and their chemistry in the study is certainly present on this release. The various textures and arrangements on the project keep you on your toes from track o track.

    Dan Siegel made his Top 10 Billboard debut with his second release, “The Hot Shot” and hasn’t looked back since. In addition to his work as a film and television composer, he has played with artists such as Herbie Hancock, Boney James, Joe Sample, Bela Fleck, John Patitucci, Berlin, Chaka Khan, and Philip Bailey.

    Get Indigo on Amazon

    Title: Indigo
    Artist: Dan Siegel
    Date: November 07, 2014
    Genre: Jazz
    Label: DSM


    01 To Be Continued
    02 By Chance
    03 Indigo
    04 Beyond
    05 Far and Away
    06 If Ever
    07 Spur of the Moment
    08 First Light
    09 Consider This
    10 Endless

    Get Indigo on Amazon

    April 1, 2015 • Reviews • Views: 2079

  • Composer Cole Porter | Teen Jazz Legend

    Best know for his work as an American composer and songwriter, pianist Cole Porter led a life filled with both scandal and luxury amidst his successful career as a musician.

    Born into a wealthy family on June 9, 1891, Cole was doted on by his mother. He began the violin at 6 and the piano at 8, and even wrote his first operetta at the age of 10. He attended Yale University in 1909 where he majored in English, minored in music and studied French.

    While a student at Yale, Porter wrote over 300 songs and joined the Glee club as well as several other music clubs. He also composed the music for several comedy skits put on by his fraternity brothers, preparing him for his future career in Broadway.

    Upon graduating from Yale, Cole Porter enrolled at Harvard Law School in 1913 but it was not long before he switched to the music program under the suggestion of the dean.

    His first Broadway tune appeared in the revue “Hands Up” in 1915. It was quickly followed by his first Broadway production which was a failure compared to the success of his debut, closing after only 15 shows. It was the first of many failures for Cole Porter.

    In 1917, after a move to Paris and his marriage in 1923, Porter finally ended his streak of failed works with the success of “(Let’s Do It) Let’s Fall in Love”. His next work, Fifty Million Frenchmen (1929) was also a success and established Porter as a talented lyricist and musician.

    The 1930s saw the addition of many more successful titles to Cole’s repertoire including “Night and Day,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” and more. In 1937, he was involved in a riding accident and lost one of his legs. He would live in constant pain for the rest of his life. Although this led to Porter withdrawing from his previously extravagant social life, it did not hinder his success as a composer.

    After the passing of his wife in 1954, Porter suffered the loss of his other leg. In 1958 he stopped composing entirely and withdrew into seclusion for the remainder of his life. He passed away due to kidney failure on October 15, 1964 at the age of 73.

    Throughout his career, Porter wrote more than 800 songs. His production “Kiss Me Kate” was the first to win a Tony Award for the category of “best musical”.

    February 25, 2015 • Interviews • Views: 2010

  • The Biography of George Gershwin | Teen Jazz Legends

    Known as the American composer who bridged the gap between popular and classical musics, George Gershwin is an award winning composer and musician who got his start playing in a resort during his free time and as a song plugger for Tin Pan Alley.

    George Gershwin was born Jacob Gershovitz in Brooklyn, New York, to Jewish, Russian immigrants Morris Gershovitz and Rose Bruskin on September 26, 1898. As the second of four children, he had two brothers and one sister. He went on to become the most well-known member of his family even though his older brother, Ira (born Israel Gershovitz), was a successful lyricist.

    Some of Gershwin’s initial musical inspirations were a mechanical piano that played Rubenstein’s “Melody in F” and Maxie Rosenzweig, a violin-playing peer attending his school. Gershwin kept a musical scrapbook in which he glued music related things into as a child. In 1910, the Gershwin family brought a piano original intended for Ira. Instead, it was George who began to seriously study music. He soon began lessons with neighbor, and then, he was later referred to Charles Hambitzer. Simultaneously, he began taking theory lessons from Edward Kileny. George Gershwin attended the High School of Commerce. At school, he would play piano during the morning assemblies.

    Gershwin worked in one of his father’s restaurants while playing popular songs at a mountain resort in his free time. His mother was not supportive of his musical path because she had intended for him to become a bookkeeper or lawyer.

    Moses Gumble at Jerome H. Remick and Company (a music publishing company) eventually offered Gershwin a job as a song plugger. He was paid fifteen dollars a week, and after convincing his mother of the benefits, he dropped out of school at fifteen. The organization he “plugged” songs for was Tin Pan Alley. As a song plugger, he played a tune, hoping to convince performers that they wanted to buy the sheet music to perform it at home. While doing this, he also began to write his own music. These compositions were kept in a folder titled “GT,” an abbreviation for “Good Tunes.”
    + Get the Essential George Gershwin on Amazon

    In 1913, George Gershwin wrote “Since I Found You,” a ragtime song which was later followed by “When You Want ‘Em You Can’t Get ‘Em, When You’ve Got ‘Em You Don’t Want ‘Em” in 1916 which was not initially a success, but attracted a few Broadway composers. Also in 1916, another Gershwin song was used by Sigmund Romberg; Gershwin also began to make piano rolls.

    In 1917, he wrote “Rial to Ripples,” “Beautiful Bird,” and “You Are Not the Girl.” In this year, he also stopped working as a song plugger and began to travel the Vaudeville Circuit as a pianist. He was then hired to write songs for Max Dreyfus at T.B. Harms, another music publishing company. In addition, he also toured as Nora Bayes’ pianist.

    On October 24, 1918, “The Real American Folk Song (Is a Rag),” the first song on which Iran and George collaborated, premiered on Broadway, sung by Nora Bayes. The same year, Gershwin also wrote “Kitchenette,” “If Only You Knew,” “There’s Magic in the Air,” and “When There’s a Chance to Dance.”

    In 1919, “Swanee” premiered at Capital Revue. It later became a hit when Al Jolson interpolated the song into his revue at the Winter Garden Theater. It was performed in the musical “Sinbad.” That year, Gershwin also wrote “La, La Lucille,” “Morris Gest Midnight Whirl,” “Lullaby,” “The Lady in Red,” and “Good Morning, Judge.” “La, La Lucille” was Gershwin’s first Broadway show.

    In 1920, he began to write for George White’s Scandals. This series of compositions lasted for five years. He also wrote “Piccadilly to Broadway,” “For No Reason at All,” “Mischa, Jascha, Toscha, Soscha,” “Waiting for the Sun to Come Out,” “Back Home,” “I Want to Be Wanted by You,” “Ed Wynn’s Carnival,” and “Broadway Brevities of 1920.”

    In 1921 he wrote “The Perfect Fool,” “Blue Eyes,” “Selwyn’s Snapshots of 1921,” “A Dangerous Maid,” and “Phoebe.”

    In 1922, Gershwin composed the one act opera “Blue Monday.” He also composed “Molly on the Shore,” “For Goodness Sake,” “A New Step Ev’ry Day (Stairway to Paradise),” “Our Nell,” “The French Doll,” and “The Spice of 1922.”

    In 1923, Gershwin composed “The Rainbow,” “The Dancing Girl,” “Nifties of 1923,” “I Won’t Say I Will But I Won’t Say I Won’t,” and “The Sunshine Trail.”

    February 12, 1924, “Rhapsody in Blue” was premiered in Aeolian Concert Hal with Paul Whiteman and his Palais Royal Orchestra.

    Later in 1924, Gershwin wrote “Lady, Be Good” in collaboration with his brother which premiered on December 24 on Broadway at Liberty Theatre. This cemented the partnership between George and Ira.

    “Concerto in F,” “Song of the Flames,” “Short Story,” “Tell Me More,” and “Tiptoes” were composed in 1925. Then in 1926, “Preludes for Piano,” “Americana,” and “Oh, Kay!” were written.

    In 1928, “An American in Paris” premiered at Carnegie Hall with Walter Damrosch conducting the New York Symphony Orchestra. “Treasure Girl” and “Rosalie” were also written.

    “Show Girl,” “Impromptu in Two Keys,” “Three-Quarter Blues,” and “East is West” were composed in 1929.

    In 1930, Ira and George began to write musicals together and moved to Hollywood for seven years. One of these musical upon which they collaborated was “Strike Up the Band.” Written in 1927, the musical was a satire and it became a huge success. The later collaborated on “Funny Face” and “Girl Crazy” which featured Ethel Merman who introduced “I Got Rhythm” in this musical. It also featured Ginger Rogers at Alvin Theatre. This same year, George Gershwin composed his first film score, “Delicious” in Hollywood. He also composed for the film “The King of Jazz.” This year, “9:15 Review” was composed as well as a revision of “Strike Up the Band.”

    In 1931, the Second Rhapsody and The Cuban Overture premiered but the public did not enjoy them. In 1932, on December 26, Ira and George wrote “Of Thee I Sing” with George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind which premiered at the Music Box Theatre. It was the first musical to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama, but George was not recognized for this until 1998.

    “Pardon My English” and “Let ‘Em Eat Cake” were composed in 1933. Then, in 1934, “Variations on I Got Rhythm” appeared. In 1935, George wrote his first opera, “Porgy and Bess” which was released to mixed reviews and didn’t really become popular until Gershwin’s death. Then in 1936, Gershwin composed “The Show is On” and “Suite from Porgy and Bess.” In 1937, “Shall We Dance” and “A Damsel in Distress” were also composed.

    George Gershwin began to experience headaches, dizzy spells and blackouts in 1937. His spells became so bad that he was sometimes found crouched down between hotel room beds with all light blocked out, holding his head with no idea of how long he had been sitting there. On July 9, he collapsed into a coma and a brain tumor was diagnosed. The situation was found hopeless when surgeons went to operate. He never awoke from his coma and he passed away on July 1, 1937.

    Gershwin was one of the first American premier composers. He also did visual arts. After his death, thirty-seven of his works were exhibited in a one-man show at the Harriman Gallery in New York.

    November 10, 2014 • Interviews • Views: 2689

  • Review of Brian Culbertson’s Album Another Long Night Out

    More and more artists are shifting from the traditional album release model, opting to go the independent route rather than work with a label, turning to crowd funding as a viable way to fund and produce an album. So it’s no surprise that Brian Culberston chose to do just that with his latest release “Another Long Night Out.”

    Get Another Long Night Out on Amazon

    Culbertson’s newfound creative and musical freedom are apparent in each of the tracks from the record, and there’s no doubt that more artists will continue to redefine the album recording process as they continue to take artistic control of their projects and releases in ways that were not possible in the past. It’s an exciting new era in music for previously signed and independent artists alike (as well as for fans who can now get involved in ways previously not available to them) and “Another Long Night Out” is a great example of what we can soon expect from our favorite performers.

    “Another Long Night Out” is a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the pianist’s debut album “Long Night Out” from February 1994 and his continued evolution as a producer, recording artist, and songwriter over the past two decades. While Culbertson recorded the majority of the instruments himself on his debut album, his latest release features a line-up of some of the top contemporary jazz artists in the industry including Russ Freeman, Eric Marienthal, Candy Dulfer, Steve Lukather, Paul Jackson Jr, Chuck Loeb, Nathan East, Jimmy Haslip, Will Kennedy, the late Ricky Lawson, Michael Thompson, Lenny Castro, Michael Bland, Patches Stewart, and even a 38-piece orchestra.

    The opening track “City Lights” starts out with a piano introduction that dives into a slow, funky groove with Lee Ritenour accompanying Culbertson on guitar. “Fullerton Ave.” featuring Chuck Loeb is another exciting arrangement that’s followed by “Beyond the Frontier,” slowing the album down without losing the energy of the previous tunes. It just keeps moving from there on out.

    There’s something refreshing about the tracks as you move through the album; the ways in which they hint at the artist’s roots while maintaining a modern sound with intricately orchestrated arrangements certainly keeps you on your toes. I love that Brian Culbertson celebrated his twentieth anniversary as a recording artist by completely revamping his debut album. I think that’s something that most of us as artists have thought about doing and I think it’s pretty cool that he took it upon himself to do just that. It’s impressive to think he made his debut as a signed recording artist with “Long Night Out” and is now making his debut as an independent recording artist with an updated version of the same project.

    “Another Long Night Out” is Brian Culbertson’s fourteenth release as an artist. He was born and raised in Decateur, Illinois where he took up the piano, trombone, bass and euphonium. He attended DePaul University in Chicago, and it was in the apartment where he lived while attending school that he began to work on his debut album. He has written and produced over 25 #1 singles on the Billboard, R&R, and Gavin charts.

    Get Another Long Night Out on Amazon

    Title: Another Long Night Out
    Artist: Brian Culbertson
    Date: February 25, 2014
    Genre: Smooth Jazz
    Label: BCM Entertainment


    01 City Lights feat. Lee Ritenour
    02 Fullerton Ave feat. Chuck Loeb
    03 Beyond the Frontier
    04 Heroes of the Dawn feat. Eric Marienthal and Rick Braun
    05 Beautiful Liar feat. Steve Lukather
    06 Double Exposure feat. Russ Freeman
    07 Twilight feat. Eric Marienthal
    08 Horizon feat. “Patches” Stewart
    10 Long Night Out feat. Candy Dulfer
    11 Changing Tides feat. Jonathan Butler

    Get Another Long Night Out on Amazon

    March 5, 2014 • Reviews • Views: 2149

  • Pianist Cedar Walton | Biography of a Jazz Legend

    This past August, we lost Cedar Walton, a great keyboardist who got his start as a member of Art Blakey’s band. I had the distinct privilege of seeing Mr. Walton perform on several occasions and it was always an inspiring display of musical virtuosity by both him and the members of his band.

    Cedar Walton was born in Dallas, Texas in January 1934. He began studying piano with his mother, a concert pianist, but he also had the opportunity to see numerous jazz performances which greatly influenced the young piano player. He soon developed a preference for the playing styles of musicians such as Nat King Cole, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, and Art Tatum.

    He moved to Colorado to attend the University of Denver where he began to gig regularly at local jazz clubs. It was during that period that he met Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane and other musicians as they passed through town on tour.

    He left school and headed for New York in 1955, and after a two-year stint in the army, he began recording and performing with Kenny Dorham, JJ Johnson, and Benny Golson. He also recorded an alternate take of “Giant Steps” with John Coltrane that was intended to be a part of the seminal album, but was not included until a later version of the CD.

    In the 1960s, Cedar Walton began working with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, and it was as part of this group that he began to establish himself as a composer and arranger. In 1964 he left the Jazz Messengers and became a member of the Prestige Records house band where he had the opportunity to record on a number of records.

    Over the next few decades, he would lead and perform as part of various groups. As a recording artist, he also released more than 40 albums throughout the span of his career. He awarded as a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters member in 2010.

    He passed away after an illness at the age of 79 in his home in Brooklyn, New York.

    October 21, 2013 • Interviews • Views: 1939

  • Review of Nicholas Cole’s Album Endless Possibilities

    A new generation of smooth jazz performers have begun to carve their place in the genre, sharing their energetic performance and youthful take on the style. We introduced you to keyboardist Jonathan Fritzén in an earlier review on Teen Jazz, and now we’d like to share the music of yet another up and coming keyboardist, Nicholas Cole.

    On September 11, 2012, Nicholas Cole released his debut effort, Endless Possibilities, in partnership with Cutmore Records, and as the title implies, the album is an exploration of the “endless possibilities” within the smooth jazz genre.

    The album features an impressive cast of musicians such as Tim Bowman, Michael Stever, Steve Cole, Lynne Fiddmont, Vincent Ingala, Steve Oliver, Julian Vaughn and Marcus Anderson and an equally impressive 14 tracks showcasing Nicholas Cole’s talent as a keyboardist, producer and composer.

    North Carolina native Nicholas Cole created “Endless Possibilities” at the age of 17/18 (sources vary) along with his musician father in their home studio. According to his Twitter account, he is now 19 and is gearing up to put together his next project.

    For more information on Nicholas Cole and his future endeavors, check out his website.

    Get Endless Possibilties on Amazon

    Title: Endless Possibilities
    Artist: Nicholas Cole
    Date: September 11, 2012
    Genre: Smooth Jazz
    Label: Cutmore Records


    01 Please Don’t Say No (feat. Tim Bowman)
    02 Between Us (feat. Michael Stever)
    03 Falling for You
    04 When I Think of You
    05 In It to Win It
    06 Just One Night (feat. Steve Cole)
    07 Endless Possibilities
    08 Beyond the Stars (feat. Lynne Fiddmont)
    09 Snap (feat. Vincent Ingala)
    10 Oasis (feat. Steve Oliver)
    11 Playin Again
    12 Triple Threat (feat. Julian Vaughn & Marcus Anderson)
    13 Conversations
    14 Tatiana

    Get Endless Possibilties on Amazon

    October 2, 2013 • Reviews • Views: 2348

  • A Review of George Duke’s Dreamweaver

    On July 16, 2013 Grammy Award Winning keyboardist and producer George Duke released Dreamweaver, a project that celebrates the life of his wife Corine. The album was released through Heads Up and it features 15 tracks that focus on Duke’s strengths as an instrumentalist, taking listeners on a tour of his diverse musical background.

    The album opens with “Dreamweaver,” an otherworldly one-minute introduction to the album. “Stones of Orion,” a jazzy tune featuring flute and horns and the upright bass of Stanley Clarke follows with a spellbinding piano solo from George Duke.

    “Trippin'” has a more urban, R&B feel and an intricate arrangement with muted trumpet, a few sax fills, and Duke’s vocals. The lyrics are autobiographical, detailing some of George Duke’s memories from growing up in the California Bay Area.

    For “Ashtray,” Duke delves into funk with tasty synth and electric piano lines, slapped bass and a few fun background vocal parts. Along with “You Never Know,” this track is one of my favorites from the project.

    George Duke frequently changes direction with this project, slowing things down for “Missing You,” then delivering a gospel-influenced message with “Change the World” before picking things back up with “Jazzmatazz.” He touches on the fusion genre with “Brown Sneakers” and “Burnt Sausage Jam” (a fifteen and a half minute musical feat), and then embraces country-blues with “Happy Trails,” keeping his listeners on their toes from start to finish.

    In addition to the great talents of Mr. George Duke, Dreamweaver features an all-star cast of musicians. Christian McBride can be heard on “Burnt Sausage Jam,” Rachelle Ferrell on “Missing You” and even Teena Marie on “Ball & Chain,” one of the last tracks she recorded before her death in 2010. “Change the World” showcases Lalah Hathaway, Jeffrey Osborne, BeBe Winans, Freddie Jackson and Howard Hewett, among others. And, of course, we can’t forget Stanley Clarke.

    George Duke led a successful career that spanned a variety of genres including funk, jazz, soul and R&B over the last several decades. Throughout his career he not only collaborated with other legendary perfumers such as Miles Davis, Barry Manilow, George Clinton, Frank Zappa, and Jill Scott, but built an incredible reputation for himself as an artist and composer. You can read more about George Duke as part of our Teen Jazz Legends series.

    Get DreamWeaver on Amazon

    Title: Dreamweaver
    Artist: George Duke
    Date: July 16, 2013
    Genre: Jazz, R&B
    Label: Heads Up


    01 DreamWeaver
    02 Stones Of Orion
    03 Trippin’
    04 AshTray
    05 Missing You
    06 Transition 1
    07 Change The World
    08 Jazzmatazz
    09 Round the way girl
    10 Transition 2
    11 Brown Sneakers
    12 You Never Know
    13 Ball & Chain
    14 Burnt Sausage Jam
    15 Happy Trails

    Get DreamWeaver on Amazon

    August 12, 2013 • Reviews • Views: 2061

  • Count Basie Biography | Teen Jazz Legend and Bandleader

    Born to parents who were both musicians in 1904, William James Basie was constantly surrounded by music. He began piano lessons with his mother, but he also studied with stride pianists such as Fats Waller.

    He began his career in music as an accompanist for Vaudeville performers which took him to Kansas City where he remained after the group fell apart in 1927. It was not long after when he joined up with Walter Page’s Blue Devils and Bennie Moten’s group. After Moten’s death in 1935, Basie started a group called the Barons of Rhythm and it was as part of this group that he received the nickname “Count” Basie after a radio announcer referred to the pianist as such during a live broadcast.

    It was also during one of these live Broadcasts that he earned his “break.” Journalist and producer John Hammond heard Count Basie during a live broadcast performance and began pitching the performer to a variety of agents and record companies. Not long after, the band began performing in Chicago and New York and it was during this period that “One O’Clock Jump” became the theme song for the group.

    In 1958 Count Basie won two Grammy Awards, one for “Best Performance by a Dance Band” and another for “Best Jazz Performance Group” for the album Basie released on Roulette Records. He also received several further nominations and Grammy Awards for later performances and recordings.

    In 1976, Basie suffered a heart attack and his health began to slowly decline. He passed away due to cancer at the age of 79.

    Pianist Count Basie is arguably one of the most important and influential bandleaders of the swing era which took place in the mid-30s to mid 40s. Although he was not a significant composer, such as fellow bandleader Duke Ellington, Basie built a reputation as an incomparable bandleader.

    August 8, 2013 • Interviews • Views: 1999