September 17, 2018. Despite the passing of Count Basie in 1984, the Count Basie Orchestra has remained one of the elite performing organizations in jazz. Now under the direction of Scotty Barnhart, the orchestra, partly comprised of musicians hired by Basie himself, has released All About That Basie to celebrate 80 years of swinging.
This album is straight up fun. The guest artists give the record a party vibe, with some elements of surprise. The band comes in hot with “Everyday I Have the Blues,” featuring the vocal group Take 6, and the revamped hits keep coming from there.
Stevie Wonder joins the band on his own “My Cherie Amour,” but he keeps his voice to himself – his harmonica does all of the talking. Trumpet player Jon Faddis makes a cameo on “Tequila,” and Philly’s own Joey DeFrancesco and his organ have a turn on “April In Paris.” The true bombshell of the tracks is the treatment of Leonard Cohen’s (usually somber) "Hallelujah." It is recognizable, but with a little bit of that Basie bounce.
The Count Basie Orchestra has managed to keep it’s laid back, yet technical, style of playing going for eighty years. That signature sound is still cool, and more evident than ever on All About That Basie.