Thad Jones, Snooky Young, Joe Newman (tp), Henry Coker, Al Grey (tb), Benny Carter, Marshall Royal, Frank Wess, Billy Mitchell, Frank Foster, Budd Johnson, Charles Fowlkes (saxes), Count Basie (p), Freddie Green (g), Eddie Jones (b), Sonny Payne (d)
Reference: FSRCD 713
Bar code: 8427328607131
With Kansas City Suite and The Legend, Benny Carter demonstrated his masterly grasp of the essential style of the Count Basie band. Both albums consist of Carter originals written especially for Basie and in almost every case, Carter established the archetypal Basie approacha smoothly mellifluous riff by the saxophones, which is then worked over by Basie and his soloists.
Some of the music is more typically Basie than typically Carter, but each track stands up well on its individual merits, notably The Legend, whose rich, moody, Ellingtonian harmonies are striking. In a fine exhibition of the Basie style, garnished with the charm and elegance for which Carter was renowned, the band shows, once again, its sonic wealth and ensemble precision.
And, to complete the picture, there are brilliant soloists like Joe Newman, Frank Foster, Thad Jones, Budd Johnson, Henry Coker and Marshall Royal (who plays lead alto sax, and gets a sound very much like Carters own).
"No pairing of LPs could be more logical than Kansas City Suite and The Legend, the 1960 and 1961 sessions arranged by Benny Carter for a Basie band that had, in the opinion of many, hit its postwar peak with The Atomic Mr. Basie in 1958. There were only a couple of personnel changes between the Atomic and Kansas City sessions. Eddie Lockjaw Davis was replaced by Billy Mitchell on tenor saxophone, but Frank Foster and Frank Wess remained, as did trumpet stars Joe Newman, Thad Jones and Snooky Young and trombonists Al Grey, Seldon Powell and Henry Coker.
The section playing was still sensational and of course the rhythm section of Basie, guitarist Freddie Green, bassist Eddie Jones and drummer Sonny Payne was nonpareil. By the time The Legend was recorded, Newman and Grey had left, Budd Johnson had replaced Billy Mitchell and Sam Herman was subbing for Green. The soloists throughout are great, with Foster and Jones making, perhaps, the strongest impressions.
Several of these tunes became standards and Katy Do is in the bands book to this day, but theres no sane way to single out individual tracks when every one is a classic. Carters writing is wonderful and draws things out of the band that Basies regular arrangers didnt, especially from the sax and trombone sections. Carter did lead a good few dates during this period, but the only one that found him leading a big band was the magnificent Aspects (1958) and the similarity to the writing here is immediately apparent."
Duck Baker -March, 2013
The New York City Jazz Record
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