Personnel: Count Basie (piano); Ray Brown (bass); Louis Bellson (drums).
Recorded in Los Angeles, California on May 22, 1974. Includes original release liner notes by Benny Green.
Digitally remastered by Danny Kopelson (1987, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California).
This strong set finds Basie in a small group context, a setting unusual for the master of big band swing. With the help of bassist Ray Brown and drummer Louie Bellson, however, Basie swings as hard as ever, while the trio format lets the Count's punchy, rhythmically adroit piano work come to the fore. The track list includes Basie originals such as "Baby Lawrence," "Pres," and the slinky, down-tempo "Blues In The Alley."
Basie also revisits tunes from earlier in his career, such as "Lady Be Good" (a nod to his milestone recording of the song with Lester Young), "Song of the Island," and "As Long As I Live" (which he cut with the Benny Goodman sextet in the late '30s). Brown and Bellson provide dynamically sensitive, energetic support on every cut, creating a web through which Basie's spare, groovy piano motifs weave and roll. This is a refreshing, pared-down take on the music of one of jazz's figureheads.