[Dixielandjazz] Jazz Review | 'K.C. and the Count'

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sat Sep 24 06:52:52 PDT 2005

Last night Lincoln Center Jazz Band performed a la Count Basie. Here is the
NY Times Review of that event and Mr. Ratliff's opinion that LCJB "in
playing music like this has no peer."

Now if they recorded it, this as a "re-creation" CD (sorry Anton, but you
know what I mean) I would buy, if for no other reasons than (1) to hear
Clark Terry sing "I Want A Little Girl" and (2) to hear for myself if there
is another band that approaches Basie's in swinging.

All those other guys trying to capture Basie, do not. (IMO)


Reliving the Heyday of Kansas City Swing

By BEN RATLIFF - September 24, 2005 - NY Times

It is the beginning of the second year for Jazz at Lincoln Center's new home
at Columbus Circle, but the 18th year since the Lincoln Center Jazz
Orchestra became the institution's resident jazz band. The second statistic
is the more meaningful.

In "K.C. and the Count," Thursday night's season-opening concert at Rose
Theater, Wynton Marsalis and the orchestra played through 18 tunes
associated either with Count Basie and his sidemen or with Harlan Leonard,
one of Basie's rivals in the competitive 1930's Kansas City jazz scene. It
was the kind of concert that Mr. Marsalis and his band have elevated to a
potent formula; it had the organic power of something that has been shined
over nearly a generation, and in playing music like this the band has no
peer. (The concert was also part of a larger Kansas City Festival on the
premises, through the weekend, including concerts in all its three

In the older Basie of 1935 to 1950, the rhythm-section engine room was the
thing - crisp, tight grooves in perfectly chosen tempos. In later Basie
bands, from 1952 to Basie's death in 1984 and beyond, when it was taken
under the hand of different leaders, it tended more toward vaulting
reed-and-brass sections and extremes of dynamics. And for all the years of
his involvement, Basie's drawling, severely edited piano style was a sly
constant. So it boils down to three problems to worry about, then. The band
solved them all.

For early Basie and 1930's Kansas City - as well as the Basie spinoff groups
of the time - the concert included "Dickie's Dream," "Good Morning Blues"
and three tunes written by Tadd Dameron for Leonard's band: "400 Swing,"
"Rock and Ride" and the mannered romantic ballad "A La Bridges." There were
two guests from Basie's own band. Clark Terry came out to play and sing on
"I Want a Little Girl," and his details were beautiful - relaxed, pearly,
rhythmically pointed. The saxophonist Frank Wess played precise
upper-midrange improvisations through "I Know That You Know," and gathered
steam over many choruses through "Lester Leaps In."

For later Basie, there was "The Golden Bullet," "Neal's Deal" and Ernie
Wilkin's 1950's revision of the early Basie standard "Moten Swing." That one
had a cruel twist, and the band made the most of the cruelty: the
arrangement began with extreme quiet and one of Basie's slowest, strolling
tempos, the drummer only tapping on a clenched high-hat. Then there were two
thunderous chords, like a hammer to the sternum, before the tune whispered
along as before. 

The pianist for the night was Dan Nimmer, a newcomer. (In March, he became a
member of Mr. Marsalis's smaller band, a quintet; he played his first show
with the orchestra at the "Higher Ground" hurricane relief concert last
week.) And he was game for the challenges: fast, dense sequences of
boogie-woogie and swing and then, suddenly, glacial silences. His biggest
crowd response, in fact, came at two bars that he didn't play: silence is
always underrated in jazz.

The band's new drummer this season is Ali Jackson, whom New York is used to,
or should be; he's been playing in town for a decade, sometimes in various
types of Jazz at Lincoln Center shows. Herlin Riley, who really defined the
orchestra's rhythm-section sound through the 90's, will be missed, but his
replacement is serious business. The concert started with "Dickie's Dream,"
a late-30's Basie small-group piece, and Mr. Jackson stepped right into it,
commandeering the beat so much that he made it almost funky; James Chirillo
played the chopped rhythm-guitar chords. That whole small piece, in fact,
was nearly perfect: Mr. Marsalis, Walter Blanding Jr. on tenor saxophone and
Wycliffe Gordon on trombone all gave solos that rose above their small
spaces. Mr. Gordon, especially, knows how to make an impression. For his
entire fast, slangy solo, he used a mute, except for the very last note,
which was a quick, upward, unmuted rip.

"K.C. and the Count" repeats tonight at 8 at Rose Hall, 60th Street and
Broadway, (212) 721-6500. Information about other shows in Jazz at Lincoln
Center's weekend-long "Kansas City Festival" is available at

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