Recent listening, current

Sunday, March 17, 2013

54. Count Basie / The Essential Count Basie, Vol. 1 (1990)

Like some other Columbia reissues, the sound quality of this disc lacks, given the NR that Columbia used to remove imperfections in source material. It's a baffling misstep. I agree, the sonics of the Complete Decca Recordings are far superior and the differences are plain. That's a shame, because the music is great. Here you get the legendary late 1930s Basie band, with the usual suspects and buoyant arrangements. But try as they might to lift you off the floor, the particular digital medium has sucked the life and dynamics right out of it. Regardless, you've got a heart of stone if you can't enjoy "Taxi War Dance," "Goin' to Chicago Blues," "Miss Thing," or "Lady Be Good." Regarding that last number, and the iconic Lester Young solo: what is his first, I've also heard called his finest solo on disc. Such reductive comments leave me wondering if critics ever listened to the rest of his career, especially that period following the war when his playing acquired a mature, refined sensibility that was intensely personal and wholly unique. Sometimes it feels like I am the only person who feels this way.   

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