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GRAMMY WINNER: On Count Plays Duke, the number one big band of the '90s performs classics such as It Don't Mean A Thing, Take the 'A' Train, Cottontail, Mood Indigo and others. The New York Post hails, There is no greater big band working today than the Count Basie Band.
In the midst of the swing revival, it's remarkable that the Count Basie band still survives, an authentic and living monument to a giant of the swing era and the musical institution that he led from the '30s until his death in 1984. Under the leadership of trombonist Grover Mitchell, who spent many years working with Bill Basie (and a short spell with Ellington), the band continues to mine its traditional repertoire and highly developed style, blending smooth ensembles, punching rhythms, and potent soloists. For this project, Allyn Ferguson, another veteran of Basie's later years, has taken on the slightly postmodernist project of arranging some of Ellington's most popular music in the classic style of the Count Basie band. It's a worthy project, for Ellington and Basie defined the two great traditions in big-band jazz, Ellington a master of melody and orchestral color, Basie the leader of a precision machine for swing. Ferguson emphasizes the Duke's strongest tunes, particularly well suited to the band's sectional strengths, but he also manages to touch on Ellington both early and late, from the plaintive, New Orleans-derived "Mood Indigo" to "Paris Blues," the theme for a 1961 film whose Ellington soundtrack was reissued in 1998. Emphasizing art over nostalgia, the results are thoroughly convincing, rendering classic music in a subtly surprising way and providing a fresh, Grammy-winning perspective on both the Ellington material and the Basie manner.
TRACK LISTING: 1. Take the 'A' Train(5:34) 2. It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)(3:03) 3. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)(6:14) 4. I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart(4:21) 5. Just Squeeze Me (But Don't Tease Me)(4:39) 6. Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me(4:32) 7. The Star-Crossed Lovers(4:07) 8. Love You Madly(3:56) 9. In a Sentimental Mood(4:26) 10. Cotton Tail(4:11) 11. Paris Blues(2:52) 12. Mood Indigo(5:13) 13. I'm Just a Lucky So and So(4:31)