Count Basie’s name alone conjures images of late nights, swaying to sounds that are ever cool, hip, and fresh. The world-famous jazz pianist and band leader helped redefine music several times over and set the preconditions for jazz innovations, rock and roll, and popular American music. On April 7th, a whole new host of colorful talents will mix with Basie’s legendary sound and influence as part of a brand new album called Late Night Basie. Releasing on Primary Wave Music label and distributed by Green Hill Music, Late Night Basie captures the essence of the man and his music with each song a modern-day interpretation of a Count Basie classic. For both the longtime fan and the new listener, surprise and delights await in this timely, important recording. And for those who may have never heard the magic of Count Basie, Late Night Basie is certainly intended to be a door into his plentiful catalog of music.
With Late Night Basie, visionary producer Paul Peck wanted to find and highlight the intersection of Count Basie through seemingly unrelated artists. For him, Basie is one of the primary colors of music; one that allows you to create infinite variations when mixed and matched with others and itself. “I see Basie as an artist who didn’t care about overwhelming you with a torrent of notes. He made the right choice in the right place at the right time to create space to hear and absorb the intent and feeling of the music,” says Peck. “This quality among others makes him so universally understood and so impactful, that he is the core of an almost infinite number of musical variations.” Late Night Basie is the latest of these variations, featuring performances from Terence Blanchard, Talib Kweli, Nicholas Payton, The Count Basie Orchestra (directed by Scotty Barnhart), Cimafunk, Larkin Poe, The Soul Rebels, Lettuce, Jazzmeia Horn, Ray Angry, Will Lee & Shawn Pelton, Jimmy Vivino, Weedie Braimah & others.
“Putting together this tribute album to Count Basie has been a labor of love over the last several years”, states Rob Dippold, Partner & President of Digital Strategy for Primary Wave Music. “As we strive to continuously develop fresh and tasteful approaches to celebrate (and create new IP) for our iconic song catalogs, this release will introduce Count Basie to new generations of music lovers while respecting his existing fanbase."
Today, Primary Wave Music shared the first track from Late Night Basie, “Didn’t You,” performed by GRAMMY-nominated funk torchbearers Lettuce and hip hop trailblazer and activist, Talib Kweli. Written by saxophone great Frank Foster for Basie’s best selling album, April in Paris, this remix leaps out of the speakers with a leadoff, funky bass drum figure before the horns of Ryan Zoidis (alto sax) and Benny Bloom (trumpet) blend and bend the notes of the first chord on top of Erick Coomes’ chugging bass—all within the song’s first four bars.
Following Lettuce’s statement of the melody, Kweli flows over the rhythm section with a verse that manages to jump off the title and bridge his signature social commentary with a quick sweep of Basie’s life, making plain the link between hip-hop and Count Basie-swing. “Providing inspiration for them black and brown babies,” Kweli raps over the contagiously funky band. “Piano lessons for 25 cents a session, got him counting all their blessings while he fattened up the rhythm section.” Throughout, Adam Smirnoff’s guitar effects and Nigel Hall’s keyboards lend a smoky, atmospheric cushion to the entire proceedings.
Fans can check out “Didn’t You” by Lettuce (feat. Talib Kweli) right now at this link and Late Night Basie can be pre-saved or pre-ordered ahead of its April 7th release right here.
For more information, please visit CountBasie.com.
Late Night Basie Tracklist:
“Didn’t You” Lettuce (Feat. Talib Kweli)
“One O’Clock Jump” - The Count Basie Orchestra (Feat. Jazzmeia Horn & Ray Angry)
“Blue & Sentimental” - Larkin Poe (Feat. Will Lee & Shawn Pelton)
“M-Squad” - The Count Basie Orchestra (Feat. Terence Blanchard)
“Jumpin’ at the Woodside” - The Count Basie Orchestra (Feat. Jimmy Vivino & Ray Angry)
“St. Thomas” - The Soul Rebels (Feat. Nicholas Payton, Cimafunk & Weedie Braimah)
“One O’Clock Jump” (Bonus track) - Danny Jonokuchi & The Revisionists*
*winners of DownBeat Magazine’s inaugural Count Basie Contest
Upcoming Concert Dates for the Count Basie Orchestra (Directed by Scotty Barnhart):
Feb 8 - Culver, IN (Culver Academies)
Feb 10 - Dubuque, IA (University of Dubuque Heritage Center)
Feb 11- Edgerton, WI (Edgerton Performing Arts Center)
Mar 3 - Stillwater, OK (Mcknight Center For The Performing Arts Center)