Friday, December 2, 2016 at 7 pm
$38 advance, $5 more day of; youth (17 & under) admitted free when accompanied by an adult
Gualala Arts is proud to present the Count Basie Orchestra on Friday, December 2, 2016, at 7 p.m. in the Gualala Arts Center Coleman Hall. Tickets are $38 advance, $5 more the day of the concert and youth 17 and under are free when accompanied by an adult.
In the history of jazz music, there is only one bandleader earning the distinction of having his orchestra still performing sold out concerts all over the world with members personally chosen by him more than 30 years after his passing. Pianist and bandleader William James “Count” Basie was and still is an American institution, personifying the grandeur and excellence of jazz. The Count Basie Orchestra, today directed by Scotty Barnhart, has won every respected jazz poll in the world at least once; been awarded 18 Grammy Awards; performed for kings, queens and other world royalty; and appeared in several movies, television shows, and at every major jazz festival and major concert hall in the world. The latest honor is the critically acclaimed release in 2015 of A Very Swingin’ Basie Christmas!, the very first holiday album in the 80-year history of the orchestra. Released on Concord Music, it went to No. 1 on the jazz charts and sold out on Amazon! Special guests include vocalist Johnny Mathis and pianist Ellis Marsalis.
Some of the greatest soloists, composers, arrangers and vocalists in jazz history, including Lester Young, Billie Holiday, Frank Foster, Thad Jones, Sonny Payne, Freddie Green, Snooky Young, Frank Wess and Joe Williams, became international stars once they began working with the legendary Count Basie Orchestra. This great 18-member orchestra is still continuing the excellent history started by Basie of stomping and shouting the blues, as well as refining those musical particulars that allow for the deepest and most moving of swing.
William “Count” Basie was born in Red Bank, New Jersey, in 1904. He started his early playing days working as a silent movie pianist and organist. Eventually, he began working with the Theater Owners Booking Agency (TOBA) circuit, sometimes referred to as the “chitlin’ circuit”, catering primarily to the African- American communities in the South, East and Mid-West. In 1927, while touring with Gonzelle White and the Big Jazz Jamboree, Basie found himself stranded in Kansas City, MO. It was there he would begin to explore his deep love of the blues and meet his future band mates, including bassist Walter Page.
In the 1920s and ’30s, Kansas City was headquarters for the territory bands that played the mid- and south-west. It was also ground zero for the heady mixture of blues, 4/4 swing rhythms and hot instrumentalists later to become the standard-bearers and precursors to the Swing Era and underlying rhythm of modern jazz. Walter Page’s Blue Devils and Benny Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra caught Basie’s ear and soon he was playing with both, serving as second pianist and arranger for Mr. Moten. In 1935, Bennie Moten died and it was left to Basie to take some of the musicians from that orchestra and form his own – The Count Basie Orchestra, alive and well some 78 years later. His orchestra epitomized Kansas City Swing and along with the bands of Fletcher Henderson, Jimmy Lunceford, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman, Basie’s orchestra defined the big band era.