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Friday, November 23, 2007

Count Basie w/Prez

Over on another blog, you can find some early Basie, in form of Chronological Classics discs, actually the first four of Basie's own band (the Bennie Moten material is sometimes included in Basie reissue series, such as the great French Masters of Jazz series, and to be sure it's absolutely essential, too!)

The way to get the Decca sides is by buying this box set (very cheap on Amazon US right now!), it's from the early 90s, but it sounds alright, and it has the best documentation you'll get, plus it includes a couple of alternates that aren't on the Classics. After the Decca period, things get pretty drab... Columbia has so far (and will forever, I'm afraid) refused to do the right thing and release their complete Basie sessions in any form (there were two French vinyl boxes, I think, but I'm too young to have them...), so Classics is the best way there is. I did mention the Masters of Jazz series, these were much better, including live material, alternate takes, and the best sound you could possibly get, but these are long gone... I managed to get a couple some years ago, and some others have been up on the late demonoid bit-torent tracker, but I'm still missing quite a bit. The other route to take is Definitive, they did two very crappy boxes in pretty bad sound, but at least all the master takes are there.
Then there's the RCA material, also done by Definitive, and there's a Japanese box, too. Those weren't the best years of the Count, alas.

Columbia did release a great 4CD compilation though, also on sale on US amazon right now. Sound is much better than on any other release of the same material, but it's far from complete, with more than one disc dedicated to (almost all of) the small group sessions Basie was involved with at Columbia's labels (including the fabulous "Jones-Smith Inc" session), then you get almost two discs of studio material, and on the fourth disc you get live material, including stellar Lester Young, and all three titles ever done by Billie Holiday with the Basie orchestra. Pretty nice, all in all, but not complete, and hence not enough...

Anyway, this is all material that would fit into my "For Europeans Only" series as it's all in public domain on our side of the pond, and I thought I'd just point out that some of it is available on that other site!

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