In a Mellow Tone

Count Basie


August 21, 1904 – April 26, 1984

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Count Basie and his Orchestra perform during the early 1980s.

Pianist, bandleader and composer William James “Count” Basie was born on August 21st, 1904 in Red Bank, New Jersey.

Basie taught himself improvisation as a teen by accompanying silent films and Vaudeville acts.

His first big break was joining Bennie Moten’s big band, then centered in Kansas City. After Moten passed away in 1935, Basie formed his own group with many Moten alumni.

Basie led this group, considered to be one of jazz’s finest big bands, until the 1980s. Many essential jazz players, like Freddie Green, Lester Young, and “Sweets” Edison were members.

Basie’s unique style and unmatched influence has contributed to his reputation as one of the jazz greats.

Following Moten’s death in 1935 Basie embarked on an illustrious career as leader of his own band spanning fifty years until his death, the success of which can only be compared to that of Duke Ellington.


Frank Foster, arranger
Willie Cook, trumpet
Dale Carly, trumpet
Sonny Cohn, trumpet
Bob Summers, trumpet
Bill Hughes, trombone
Dennis Wilson, trombone
Grover Mitchell, trombone
Booty Wood, trombone
Danny Turner, alto sax
Bobby Plater, alto sax & flute
Kenny Hing, tenor sax
Eric Dixon, tenor sax & flute
Johnny Williams, bass sax
Count Basie, piano
Freddie Green, guitar
Cleveland Eaton II, bass
Gregg Field, drums


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