In the nineteenth installment of their Swiss Radio Days series, TCB Music showcases the Count Basie Orchestra in their 1956 live recording from a concert in Basel, Switzerland. The personnel on this recording make up the second incarnation of the Count Basie Orchestra after the original lineup broke up around 1949-1950. The 1956 orchestra also features some heavyweights in their own right in the lineup, namely trumpeter Thad Jones, tenor saxophonist Frank Foster, and bass player Eddie Jones.
The Basel concert offers plenty of gems for listeners that enjoy swing and big band jazz. The set opens with You For Me and features Frank Foster. Next up is Basie staple Shiny Stockings and features Frank Foster Thad Jones on a muted trumpet dynamically before the entire orchestra is highlighted in Cherry Point. The fast-paced Sixteen Men Swingin’ provides a playground for sax, trombone and trumpet solos. The orchestra then slows the pace down on Eventide and feature Charlie Fowlkes on bari sax. Mambo Inn showcases Sonny Payne’s proficiency on drums, before the orchestra covers Backstage Blues. Frank Wess’ flute work on Flute Juice is excellent. The Unknown Title is a song that truly was never named, yet Basie weaves together a haunting melody that will certainly hold the listener’s attention. The Blee Blop Blues is a fast blues that aggressively shows Joe Newman’s range on the trumpet and has graceful solis by the sax & trumpet sections. Yesterdays is a ballad that effectively displays Coker’s versatility on trombone. The set closes with what could be considered a clinic on playing the upright bass on Eddie Jones’ Blues.
The Basel concert is definitely a must have for any fan of swing or big band jazz. The selections, the solos and the talent in the lineup speak for themselves in this recording. It’s easy to see from this recording in 1956 why the Count Basie Orchestra still tours today, 24 years after his death.