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Count Basie

William “Count” Basie - 555

Brass and rhythm section swinging hard and funky with those boogie-woogie piano figures and understated fills. That was the Count Basie Band’s signature and still is. Basie’s approach influenced swing, and his contributions to the musical lexicon eventually resulted in his becoming the first African-American to receive a Grammy. Singers who collaborated with Basie represent a who’s who of vocalists, and include Billie Holiday, Jimmy Rushing a.k.a. Mr. 5 by 5, Joe Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Frank Sinatra, Carmen Bradford, and her mother, Melba Joyce. Basie band members included singular instrumentalists, such as Lester Young, Joe Jones, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Buck Clayton, Frank Foster, and Clark Terry. One of the Basie Band’s signature tunes, “April In Paris,” has his wonderful instruction to his band, “let’s try it one more once.” Basie was also a close friend and confidante of Lena Horne, whom he convinced to stay in Hollywood to represent a positive image of Black womanhood.