Count Basie Orchestra includes: Grover Mitchell.
COUNT PLAYS DUKE won the 1999 Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance.
Personnel: Frank Wess (flute, alto saxophone); Doug Miller (flute, tenor saxophone); Brad Leali (clarinet, alto saxophone); Kenny Hing (clarinet, tenor saxophone); Clarence Banks, Grover Mitchell (trombone); Butch Miles (drums).
Audio Mixer: Bones Howe.
Liner Note Author: John McDonough .
Recording information: Edison, New York, NY (06/03/1998-06/04/1998).
Editor: Douglas Evans.
Photographers: Alice Arnold; Herman Leonard; Chuck Stewart.
Arranger: Allyn Ferguson.
Funny that the Count Basie band would finally do an entire album of Ellington/Strayhorn tunes in 1998, fourteen years after Basie's death and 24 years after Ellington's. All right, better late than never, but this stretches the clich‚ to unbelievable lengths when neither leader nor most of their famous sidemen are around to notice. Still, the Basie band continues to be a lively ghost under the direction of trombonist Grover Mitchell, disciplined and crisply swinging with a solid crew of soloists, although the old explosive power is largely dormant. This survey of Ellingtonia runs through many of the well-known Ellington and Strayhorn standards, all arranged with a convincingly Bas-ic ensemble sound by Allyn Ferguson (even an indelibly marked piece like "Mood Indigo" is transformed by that loping rhythm guitar). As a nostalgic bonus, a famous Basie alum, the still spry flutist Frank Wess, 76-years-old here, is on board for "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good," "Just Squeeze Me" and "Love You Madly." A minor still-alive-and-well document in the big Basie picture, but enjoyable. ~ Richard S. Ginell