Count Basie (1904–1984)

Born:

21st August 1904 in Red Bank, Monmouth County, New Jersey, USA.

Count Basie’s grave in Farmingdale

Died:

26th April 1984 in Hollywood, Florida, USA.

Buried:

Pinelawn Memorial Park, Farmingdale, Suffolk County, New York.

Most famous single:
  • One O’Clock Jump. (See below for a video.)
Some great albums:
  • Basie Beginnings (1929–1932).
  • America’s #1 Band (1936–1952).
  • The Complete Decca Records (1937–1939).
  • Verve Jazz Masters: Count Bassie (1954–1965).
  • The Complete Atomic Mr Basie (1957).
  • For the First Time (1974).
Some interesting facts:
  • He was one of the greatest jazz artists of the swing era (1930s–early 1940s)! [Swing jazz uses big bands and has a strong beat. It is often very fast as well.]
  • His real first name was William (or Bill).
  • He was mostly a piano player, but sometimes played the organ.
  • His playing was much more relaxed than a lot of other swing piano players. He played fewer notes than many others.
  • His music during the swing era has a very strong rhythm section (drums and bass, or drums, bass and guitar).
  • His most famous single, ‘One O’Clock Jump’ was composed when his group were just messing around!
  • He formed the band ‘Count Basie Orchestra’ in the 1930s and led it for almost 50 years. This band is still going today!
  • He didn’t like school and didn’t get very far there either!
  • In the last years of his life he played the piano in a wheelchair.

Here is a video of the Count Basie Orchestra playing One O’Clock Jump. Count Basie is the person playing the piano.

The Count Basie Orchestra playing ‘One O’Clock Jump’

And here is a video of Count Basie and an orchestra playing Freckle Face.

Count Basie playing ‘Freckle Face’

Picture credits:
  1. Count Basie. This is a screen capture of Count Basie at the piano from the movie “Rhythm and Blues Revue” from 1955. The image is in the public domain. Click here for the source of this image, along with the relevant copyright information.
  2. Count Basie’s grave in Farmingdale. This photograph was taken by Scott Michaels. I have obtained permission from him to use the image here. Click here for the source of this image.
Video credits:
  1. Count Basie Orchestra – One O’ Clock Jump. Count Basie, piano; Wardell Gray, tenor sax; Buddy DeFranco, clarinet; Clark Terry, trumpet; Freddie Green, guitar; Jimmy Lewis, bass; Gus Johnson, drums. Swing Bless You!
  2. Count Basie Freckle Face. The person who posted this on YouTube writes: Another clip from Basie’s 1977 trip to Montreux. Freckle Face featuring Bobby Mitchell on trumpet and Butch Miles drums.

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