Tag Archives: Count Basie

The National Recording Registry, KC Edition: Part 2

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To mark the release of this year’s additions to the National Recording Registry, we’re going to feature registry recordings with ties to Kansas City.

The National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress honors and preserves recordings of significant cultural, musical and historical value. The registry contains 17 recordings that has ties to Kansas City.

Part 1 contains recordings added in 2002-2004.

One O’Clock Jump, Count Basie and His Orchestra. Basie’s signature recording was released in 1937 and features some of the best musicians ever to have come from Kansas City, including Lester Young on tenor sax and Buck Clayton on trumpet.

Record producer Dave Dexter Jr., who grew up in Kansas City.

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Historic KC Recordings: “One O’Clock Jump” and “In the Mood”

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To mark the release of this year’s additions to the National Recording Registry, we’re going to feature registry recordings with ties to Kansas City.

Count Basie

One O’Clock Jump
Added to the registry in 2005, One O’Clock Jump by Count Basie and His Orchestra is perhaps the best example of Kansas City-style jazz. It’s a riff-based song that features a “head” arrangement that the musicians learned by ear, rather than one that’s written down.

Although developed and recorded in New York, One O’Clock Jump is pure Kansas City and features some of best players to ever come from here, including Lester Young on tenor sax, Buck Clayton on trumpet and Walter Page on the double-bass.

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The Billboard Roll Call: Count Basie

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The Billboard Roll Call is a listing of regional artists who have charted a song on the Billboard Top 40 from 1955-2009. The introduction has additional information.

Count Basie
Count Basie is a great reminder of why it’s important to remember that the Billboard charts measure popularity and not quality. Viewed only from his chart performance, Basie was a one-hit wonder.

He was much more than that, of course. As one of the greatest jazz bandleaders and pianists in the 20th Century, Basie’s sound defined Kansas City Jazz in the 1930s and 1940s. He continued with an active recording and performing career until he died in April 1984.

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Today in KC’s Music History: “Shake, Rattle and Roll” Recorded

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One of the most important records in the development of rock ‘n’ roll was recorded on Feb. 15, 1954.

Big Joe Turner

Shake, Rattle and Roll by Big Joe Turner made him one of the great R&B stars of the era. The record itself is a milestone, as rhythm and blues began to be combined with other elements to form rock ‘n’ roll.

The song has deep Kansas City roots, and I think you can make a case that you can’t have rock ‘n’ roll without the influence of Kansas City music. Continue reading

Special Grammy History Edition: KC Winners


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In honor of the Grammy Awards on Sunday, Another Verse presents a breakdown on Grammy winners with a Kansas City-area connection.

As you might expect, KC Grammy winners are heavily weighted toward jazz. But there are winners in other categories, including rock, Broadway and folk.

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Vinyl KC: “Shake Rattle and Roll” by Joe Turner

I just started collecting old records that have a connection to Kansas City’s music history. I’ll be spotlighting these in future blog posts.

First up is my prized possession and probably the most important record made by a Kansas City musician: Shake, Rattle and Roll by Big Joe Turner.

Turner had an amazing career, having a hand in most of the significant musical developments in the first half of the 20th Century, including blues, big band, boogie-woogie, rhythm and blues, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Born in Kansas City, Mo., Turner first sang in church. When he was about 14, he started singing in KC’s nightclubs. He performed at the important From Spirituals to Swing concerts at Carnegie Hall in 1939, which lead to his recording career.

A gig with the Count Basie Orchestra in the early 1950s resulted in Turner being signed to Atlantic Records. Turner recorded a number of R&B hits for Atlantic, but Shake, Rattle and Roll took his career to a whole new level.

Shake, Rattle and Roll is one of rock ‘n’ roll’s foundational records. With this performance, Turner became one of the transitional artists between R&B and rock ‘n’ roll. According to legendary songwriter Doc Pomus, “Rock ‘n’ roll would have never happened without him.”

Shake, Rattle and Roll was recorded in New York on Feb. 15, 1954. Released in April 1954, it hit No. 1 on the R&B chart in June 1954. (Interestingly, Bill Haley & His Comets recorded their version the same week Turner’s version hit No. 1 and was released later that year.)

Turner continued to record and perform into the 1980s. He died in 1985 at age 74. He’s a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Kansas Music Hall of Fame.

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Big Joe Turner: Rock & Roll Hall of FameKansas Music Hall of Fame

KC Dominates 2011 Kansas Music Hall Inductees

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In October, members of the Kansas Music Hall of Fame voted on nominees for the class of 2011. The votes have been counted, and there’s a strong contingent of Kansas City musicians. In fact, seven of the 11 inductees have a connection to Kansas City.

Inductees will be honored March 5, 2011, at Liberty Hall in Lawrence.

KC-area inductees are:

Count Basie — Bill “Count” Basie was born in New Jersey, but he lived in Kansas City and his bands are the best example of Kansas City-style jazz. Lots of prominent musicians went through his bands, and Basie even had an influence on rock ‘n’ roll. Big Joe Turner, one of rock ‘n’ roll’s foundational artists, sang with Basie in the early 1950s, which lead to Turner’s record deal with Atlantic Records. Turner’s signature hit, “Shake Rattle and Roll,” was released in 1954.

James Gadson — Gadson is one of the most most recorded drummers in R&B history. He played on a ton of important records in the 1970s, including Bill Withers’ album Still Bill, which featured the classic Lean on Me.

Charlie Parker

Charlie Parker — Parker is one of the most important musicians ever to have come from Kansas City. He played a leading role in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, virtuoso technique and improvisation based on harmonic structure.

The Rainmakers — Although they had limited commercial success in the United States, the Rainmakers had a good run in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s, particularly Norway. To my ears, their stuff stands up extremely well compared to other acts of the era. Their biggest hit was the song “Let My People Go-Go.” Writer Stephen King quoted the band’s lyrics in his novels The Tommyknockers and Gerald’s Game.

Riverrock — A great country-rock/electric bluegrass band that has been active since the 1970s. They were one of KC’s most popular bands in their day, and the band still performs around town. Their album Midwest Man is considered an area classic and has just been rereleased on CD.

Bobby Watson

Bobby Watson — Born in Lawrence, Kan., and reared in Kansas City, Kan., Watson is an alto saxophonist who has recorded 26 albums as a bandleader and plays on nearly 100 others.  He moved home in 2000 and currently serves as director of jazz studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In addition to teaching, he performs around the world.

Chely Wright — Growing up in Wellsville, Kan., at the southwest edge of the Kansas City metro area, Wright began singing with local bands at 11 and eventually started her own band.  She joined the Ozark Jubilee show in Branson while still in high school, then moved to Nashville. Her debut album was released in 1994 and she received an Academy of Country Music award for Top New Female Vocalist that year. Her biggest his is Single White Female, released in 1999.

Full Disclosure: I’m a member of the Kansas Music Hall of Fame and voted in this election.