The Center presents JAZZ ROOTS
A TRIBUTE TO ELLA & BASIE
with PATTI AUSTIN and THE COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA
at the Palladium
Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 8 pm
Count Basie’s music, characterized by a bluessteeped jumping beat and contrapuntal piano accents, was a showcase for top-drawers singers, from Billie Holiday to Tony Bennett. But it was arguably Ella Fitzgerald’s meeting with the Count that proved to be “A Perfect Match.”
Jazz Roots: A Larry Rosen Jazz Series was created in conjunction with the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami - Dade County.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
She crosses all musical genres, has made 16 solo albums, and has performed her award-nominated hit songs on the Grammys and the Oscars. As a performer, songwriter and vocalist she has had a star-studded career that began at the age of four, making her one of the most beloved artists literally the world over. She is PATTI AUSTIN - whose extraordinary career continues to cross over boundaries and reach new heights.
One would be surprised if singer-composer Patti Austin did not have talent, given her impressive musical pedigree and early exposure to some of the most trend-setting artists of the twentieth century. Austin, the daughter of a jazz trombonist and goddaughter of musical legends Quincy Jones and Dinah Washington, made her stage debut with Washington at the world-famous Apollo Theater in Harlem. During the 70s she was the undisputed "queen" of the New York jingle session scene. Her voice was heard on literally hundreds of commercials, behind everyone from Paul Simon, Cat Stevens and Joe Cocker to Bette Midler, Roberta Flack, Luther Vandross and Diana Ross. At the beginning of the 80's, Quincy Jones gave Patti exposure to a wider audience through her participation on his best-selling album STUFF LIKE THAT and the Grammy-winning classic THE DUDE. Her debut album for Quincy's Qwest label included the chart-topping hit "Baby Come To Me," a now classic duet with James Ingram. The pair reprised their success with the Oscar nominated "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?"
In 1988, Patti released the magnificent David Pack-produced THE REAL ME. Featuring a powerful collection of pop and jazz standards including "Cry Me A River," "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and "Mood Indigo." THE REAL ME remains one of the most popular items in the Austin catalog. Focusing as it does on timeless standards, FOR ELLA, released in 2002, extends and expands the thematic approach of THE REAL ME, focusing on some of Ella Fitzgerald's greatest songs. In 1989 Patti signed with GRP Records, starting a four-year stint with the label with "Christmas Time Is Here" from HAPPY ANIVERSARY CHARLIE BROWN. Other top-selling recordings followed, including 1991's CARRY ON, LOVE IS GONNA GETCHA (featuring the across-the-board hit "Through the Test of Time"), THAT SECRET PLACE and PATTI AUSTIN LIVE (recorded at New York's Bottom Line), which showcased her more-than-ample standup comedic skills and brilliant impersonations.
These days, Patti is constantly on tour performing with her band of various configurations to suit the desires of her very diverse fan base. Lately, she has become a favorite of symphonies around the world. These performances usually generate several standing ovations, especially when she recreates her work with the WDR Big Band from Cologne, Germany. She recorded FOR ELLA, her critically acclaimed and Grammy-nominated tribute to the legendary Ella Fitzgerald in Cologne.
THE COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA
Jazz is an American invention of the 20th Century. It’s sound is the “modern art” of music. In his 80 year life span, William “Count” Basie so expanded and elevated the art form that his legacy is regarded as an “American Institution” by modern music’s connoisseurs around the world.
Yet the affable “count” was a very modest gentleman. His motions and musical conversations at the piano closely paralleled his approach to life itself. So one might predict he’d be elated to know that the orchestral institution he founded in 1936 is still thriving today.
William Basie, a New Jersey native from Red Bank, grew up with the tempos of The Swing Era in New York City...live big bands were filling ballrooms with dance rhythms. But toward the close of the Roaring 20’s, it was Kansas City that was drawing notice for Jazz, this new wave of “wide-open” musical style! Young pianist “Bill Basie” landed there while working the national vaudeville circuit and briefly joined Walter Paige’s Blue Devils, then stayed on with The Benny Moten Orchestra.
Jazz experts maintain that Basie at the keyboard signaled the beginning of the Moten band’s historical significance, starting with discs cut in 1932. With Benny Moten’s sudden death 3 years later, Basie went from pianist to bandleader. He took the name “The Count” when his new group headlined at Kansas City’s Reno Club in 1936. They worked long hours every night and the pay was low, but The Count Basie Orchestra had arrived!
His sixth sense quickly assessed each sideman’s potential as an ingredient for the distinctive sound of his group. The Count’s manner earned the resect of his peers, the affection of his players, and contributed to the rapid success of the new group.
With a keyboard touch or two, sound was set into motion. Always swinging, his piano spots became the band’s claim to fame. A simple “Plink, Plink, Plink” closing triplet was all the “signature” his music needed. Despite half a century of changing tastes in popular music, the endurance of The Count Basie Orchestra confirms the genius of his earliest musical instincts.
Kansas City’s Reno Club was the setting for live radio broadcast of THE COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA within months of its 1935 debut. Jazz critic JOHN HAMMOND heard these programs and was so impressed that he prevailed up Music Corporation of America to sign them, thus bringing BASIE back to Manhattan in 1936.
A recording contract with Decca came next...and as the decade closed, a combination of radio airtime and records had popularized the band from coast to coast. They played the 1939 World’s Fair in San Francisco. They were in demand across the land. They would usher in the 1940’s attracting wonderful soloists and bigger crowds.
Post-war film appearances and recordings on the new ‘hi-fi LP discs” with ELLA FITZGERALD, SARAH VAUGHN, JOE WILLIAMS, TONY BENNETT & FRANK SINATRA exported the swinging ‘Basie Sound’ to Europe and the Far East. The demand for records and live appearances became international.
By the 1950’s the Korean War and an economic lull sent the call for “Big Bands” into a decline. However, while other bands were downsizing and vanishing...THE COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA triumphed with European concert tours a Command Performance for the Queen of England, and a sold-out 13-week Waldorf-Astoria engagement.
By the 1960’s, pundits declared the big band officially dead! All except the COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA! More European and Southeast Asian tours, regular television & Las Vegas appearances, and crowded schedules of playing dates across North America set a pace that continues unabated.
THE COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA of TODAY is nineteen performers committed to upholding and advancing this “American Institution.” Some members are new, yet the majority of the sound still swings from musicians handpicked by Count Basie himself. They are in demand for television and films, have won every respected jazz poll in the world at least once, and continue to accumulate awards and special recognitions.