• Composer of the Week:   William "Count" Basie
    Presented for Black History Month 


    Basie William “Count” Basie was a jazz composer and Big Band leader born in Red Bank, New Jersey in 1904.   His family was middle-class for the time period (his Dad was a handyman for wealthy families), and had at least some musical background.  His mother used her baking skills to earn money to pay for piano lesson, which cost 25 cents per lesson.   Basie only finished Junior High School (like a middle school), and became solely interested in music. 

    Basie and his various bands performed in places like Harlem, New York and Kansas City, Missouri.  In the 1920's, he decided he wanted to be part of the "jazz royalty" of the time (joining "Duke" Ellington, "King" Oliver, etc.), so he took the nickname "Count."  By the mid-1930’s, he was recording with his band “Count Basie and his Barons of Rhythm.”   During these times, Basie was fond of writing and performing in the Blues style.   However, upon returning to New York in 1937, Basie and his band became known for their swing music, playing at the famous “Savoy” ballroom.  There, people listened to swing and danced the jitterbug, conga and foxtrot.    Basie’s swing music dominated the Big Band era, which lasted until after World War II ended in 1945.  Interestingly enough, most of Basie’s recordings were made after the war. 

     Count Basie composed and/or recorded many famous jazz pieces.  Among these are One O’clock Jump, April in Paris, Come Rain or Come Shine, Jumpin’ at the Woodside, Doggin’ Around, Goin’ to Chicago Blues, and Mood Indigo.    Count Basie died in 1984, and remains one of the best known jazz musicians of all-time.   



     Map of Red Bank, New Jersey

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