William Basie persists as a model and mentor even though he is no longer at the keyboard. Regarding the world with a cheerful amused skepticism, he embodied truths long before they were adopted as cultural cliche: less is more; the medium is the message; ‘t’ain’t what ‘cha do; give away those things not meant for you; the blues cure the blues.
Basie would have brushed such praise away, but he is Thoreau who chose the bandstand over the beanfield, a great abstract painter without a brush; a prophet whose message was primarily silence and joy, making the universe swing.
We can’t go backwards to the youthful glory of the Basie band of the late Thirties, except by listening to the airshots, the Deccas, and the Columbias, but this band has some of the unbuttoned joyous energy of the real thing (with a few leaps forward). It’s not an outright imitation, which is a good thing, but it moves in the same happy directions.
This endearing evocation — captured at the 2013 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party — is led by Matthias Seuffert, reeds, with Jean-Francois Bonnel, Gavin Lee, Claus Jacobi, saxophones; Duke Heitger, Ben Cummings, Andy Woon, trumpets; Alistair Allan, Graham Hughes, trombone; Keith Nichols, piano; Roly Veitch, guitar; Henri Lemaire, string bass; Richard Pite, drums.
JIVE AT FIVE:
LESTER LEAPS IN:
A more recent effort in this swinging manner, Buck Clayton’s CLAYTONIA (originally recorded for Vanguard in 1957, then brought to life once more for the Buck Clayton Legacy Band, still floating):
SHOE SHINE BOY (evoking Chicago, 1936):
BLUE AND SENTIMENTAL (for Herschel):
and a leisurely romp through ONE O’CLOCK JUMP:
Let us live our lives the Basie way — gently improving the universe as we go.
May your happiness increase!