Amongst many of the things the legendary COUNT BASIE and his ORCHESTRA were famous for were their “swing” albums ; indeed the big band were synonymous with the genre and though Basie died in 1984 a series of musician have kept his “orchestra” brand going and the latest line up have just released a classic “swing” collection – ‘BASIE SWINGS THE BLUES’. The album is a muscular 12 tracker and features a stellar line up of guest artists , amongst them George Benson, Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, Bettye LaVette, Ledisi, Keb Mo and Bobby Rush.
The Basie band is currently marshalled by Scotty Barnhart and the idea behind this album was to celebrate the deep-rooted connection between jazz and blues and to that end he embarked on a pilgrimage to Mississippi and drove through the areas where the blues was born. The impact the trip had can be heard on each and every track.
Amongst the selections are a moody ‘Just For A Thrill’ with soulful vocals from Carmen Bradford, a swinging ‘Stormy Mondy Blues’ with another equally convincing vocal from the great Betty LaVette and ‘Rock Candy’ on which George Benson, despite his dalliances with smooth soul, shows he’s a jazz guitarist at heart! Maybe the track that sums up the essence of the album is ‘Let’s Have A Good Time’ – a roistering, rollicking blues featuring new (ish) blues man Castro “Mr. Sipp” Coleman on vocals and BB King style guitar. The cut echoes Count Basie’s oft quoted “our blues will make your blues go away.”
‘Basie Swings The Blues’ is out now via Candid Records,