Tom and I took our wives to hear the Count Basie Orchestra in concert at Benaroya Hall last week and we meet with some of the members of the band.
The Count Basie Orchestra first debuted in 1935 and gained popularity in the 1930s and 1940s as one of the top big bands that defined the big stomping sound of Swing. And the well-attended crowd at Benaroya Hall in Seattle has demonstrated the sustaining popularity of the Count Basie Orchestra even long after the end of the big band era.
The world-famous band consists of 19 performers. There were young members as well as some members that were selected and played with Count Basie himself. These guys can can still swing like crazy and they did justice to each song. They played some big band standards as well as holiday favorites. The performance was powerful. Each player showed their own unique style and incredible skills especially during their solos. What really impressed me was Butch Miles, the drummer for the group, who has to be one of the best drummers I have seen. The common qualities that ran through the show were intensity, precision, musicianship, and character
The Basie band was led by Bill Hughes. Here is a roster of the Count Basie Orchestra Band Members: Bill Hughes, Bass Trombone & Leader; John Williams*, Baritone Saxophone; Doug Miller, Tenor Saxophone; Grant Langford, Alto Saxophone; Marshall McDonald, Alto Saxophone; Doug Lawrence, Tenor Saxophone; Clarence Banks*, Trombone; Alvin Walker, Trombone; Dave Keim, Trombone; Barry Cooper, Trombone; Scotty Barnhart, Trumpet; Michael Williams, Trumpet; Shawn Edmonds, Trumpet; Endre Rice, Trumpet; Butch Miles*, Drums; James Leary, Bass*; Will Matthews, Guitar; Tony Suggs, Piano; Melba Joyce, Vocalist.
* worked or performed with Count Basie
Here is the layout of the Basie Big Band:
This may come in handy when setting up Big Band arrangements in JABB.
It was good to see a span of several generations of fans in the audience. The combined forces of 19 skilled jazz musicians, who were so tight, playing shoulder to shoulder and having a good time was an experience I'll never forget.
It is my hope the first Jazz and Big Band library may lead people to explore and appreciate big band music. I'm looking forward to seeing some of the Count Basie Band band members again next month at the International Jazz Educaotors Conference in New York.
Drummer Butch Miles at the Marbella Jazz Festival
Band Leader Bill Hughes
Tom Hopkins and Drummer Butch Miles
Basie Trumpeter Endre Rice
Basie sax section at Marbella Jazz Festival
Regent Theatre Celebration of Count Basie