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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Count Basie's group came roaring out of Kansas City in the late 1930s, epitomizing the hard-swinging big-band sound of the era. Rough and ready, they challenged the big-band title then held by Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson. Employing punchy, syncopated horn riffs, a solid four-to-the-bar rhythm section, and Basie's own economical, impeccably timed piano, the band sounds like a machine. Here, Basie's piano subtly refers to boogie-woogie, the smooth saxes answering the brassy exclamations, and the drums stoking the fire along through two budget-priced CDs of material. The band swings through numbers like "Every Tub," "Jive at Five," and "Cherokee" with confidence and spunk. Great vocals by Helen Humes and Jimmy Rushing ice the cake. If you feel a need for music that personifies Kansas City swing, this is it. A word to the wise: the set lacks info on the individual sessions, preferring instead to pack the CDs with tunes and leave the cover for sleek, cocktail-inspired art. --Wally Shoup

Cocktail Hour: Count Basie