William "Count" Basiewas born in Red Bank New Jersey in 1904 and took piano lessons from his mother.When he was in his late teens he moved to Harlem where he met Fats Waller, who taught Basie informally.
In 1924Basie toured the vaudeville circuit as a soloist and accompanist to blues singers.
He eventually arrived in Kansas City.
In 1928 he joined Walter Pages Blue Devils and the following year he became the pianist with the Benny Motem band.
Count Basie started his own band in 1935 after Moten died.This band included a number of Moten's band members.
In 1936 he moved the band from Kansas City to Chicago where the band did a recording session in association with John Hammond, and with the help of this gentleman, by the end of 1936 the band was playing in New York City where the band remained until 1950.
Many jazz musicians know the Basie Band as"The band that swings".
The reputation that followed the Count Basie orchestra was helped very much by Count Basie's selected accents of his own jazz piano.
"He never wasted a note!!!!!
Basie also showcased some of the best blues singers of the era Billie Holiday,Jimmy Rushing,Big Joe Turner,Helen Humes and Joe Williams.
Count Basie was able to hold on to his musicians for lengthy periods.
During the 1930s and 1940s musicians like Buck Clayton,Herschel Evans, Lester Young and the bands great rhythm section Walter Page, Freddie Greene and Joe Jones.
During the late 1940s Basie was forced to reduce the size of the band for a short while, when it seemed the Big Band Era had come to an end, but Basie reformed his 16 piece orchestra in 1952 and led it until his death in 1984.
The legendaryElla Fitzgeraldalso toured with the band and is well remembered for the 1963 album Ella and Basie.This is remembered as as one of Ella Fitzgerald's greatest recordings.
Basies band of the 1960s was helped by the wonderful arrangements of Quincey Jones.
Frank Sinatraalso had a fruitful association with Basie. Quincy Jonesprovided the punchy arrangements for the Basie band on Sinatras biggest selling album, Sinatra Live At The Sands.
I personally first saw the band in concert during the Bands tours of England during the 1960s
and I will list some of the band members that I can remember.The first tour of England included the wonderful Sarah Vaughn and Joe Williams.
Later tours were with 'Lamberts Hendricks And Ross' and on a third tour I remember Jimmy Rushing.
I appologise if I have missed anyone, but the main band members I remember were Frank Wess,Frank Foster,Marshall Royal, Charlie Fowlkes, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Al Grey,Bill Hughes,Thad Jones,Snooky Young, Don Rader, Freddie Greene, Eddie Jones, Sonny Payne and Sonny Cohn. Sonny Cohn played lead trumpet for many years and later went on to manage the band.
Count Basie died of Pancreatic Cancer in Hollywood, Florida on April 26th 1984.
We are left to celebrate a wonerful man and his superb Orchestra and hope the Orchestra will go on for another 50 years.
Bill Hughes is now directing the Orchestra and we wish him and the Orchestra every success for the future.