This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Kansas City swing band. Basie got his start as a pianist for silent movies, eventually moving on to the Theater Owners Booking Agency, the vaudeville circuit for African-American performers during the 1920s and 1930s.
He then went on to start his own band.
The Count Basie Orchestra website describes the music fundamentals of “Basie’s orchestra were and still are foot-stomping 4/4 swing, an unparalleled use of dynamic contrasts, shouting the blues at any tempo, and just making one want to dance.”
Historians divide the Count Basie era between 1935 and 1955 as the Old Testament and New Testament bands. Old-school music featured more riff-driven, or “head” arrangements with a more relaxed and blues feel embedded in the swing. By 1952, the band had a more precise sound.
Basie became the first African-American to receive a Grammy in 1958, and since, his 18-member band racked up 18 golden megaphones, the most for any orchestra.
Basie died in 1984, but the band played on with Scotty Barnhart now directing. It continues Basie’s storied history of stomping and shouting the blues while moving to the swing of the music. Four musicians who played with Basie are still members of the band.
Tickets start at $15.95.
Tickets: Suncoast Showroom, (702) 284-7777