Bennie Moten: Moten Swing


Moten Swing


Bennie Moten and his Kansas City Orchestra


Band Box Shuffle (Hep 1070-2)

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Bennie Moten (bandleader), Hot Lips Page (trumpet), Eddie Durham (trombone, guitar), Eddie Barefield (clarinet, alto sax), Ben Webster (tenor sax), Count Basie (piano), Walter Page (bass),

Joe Keys, Dee Stewart (trumpet); Dan Minor (trombone), Jack Washington (alto sax, baritone sax), Leroy Berry (guitar); Willie McWashington (drums)


Composed by Buster Moten and Bennie Moten


Recorded: Camden, New Jersey, December 13, 1932


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

It is difficult to believe that this recording was made on the cusp of 1933. Basie’s later spare style (complete with Page’s driving bass) is easily recognized and the recording quality is sensational – crisp, clear, even McWashington’s brushes are quite audible. The bridge of the first chorus, cleverly truncated, features spine-tingling, shouting brass played into metal derbies and sounding like they are in the room with the listener. The arrangement cleverly builds with the saxophones first sketching out Walter Donaldson’s hit “You’re Driving Me Crazy” (the chords of which form the basis here) before essaying the famous riff (with Barefiled’s obbligato) known by many as a swing era anthem. A sudden key change introduces Hot Lips Page who solos in a coolish un-Armstrong manner. Finally the full compact ensemble plays the familiar riff melody, bridge and all. Notice Basie doubling his left hand on the studio celeste which, along with Page’s beautifully registered bass, brings to a close a record that has it all.

Reviewer: David Sager

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  • 1 Rico Detroit // May 17, 2009 at 04:02 AM
    Bennie Moten was the top bandleader in Kansas City and “Moten Swing” was his signature tune. This recording from late 1932 displays a big band swing sound as fully realized as if it had been recorded a decade later. Moten himself does not play on this recording, leaving the piano to a rising star in his band, William “Count” Basie. Basie starts the song with a simple but swinging introduction, and he demonstrates an uncanny sense of musicianship throughout as he provides prominent, though spare, accompaniment that perfectly accents the orchestra and soloists. The rhythm section, led by former Blue Devils bandleader Walter Page on bass, is simply phenomenal, creating a propulsive rhythm that is impossible not to dance to. The soloists are also quite good, including Eddie Barefield on alto sax, Ben Webster on tenor and Oran “Hot Lips” Page on trumpet. Sadly, Moten would die in 1935, just as the big band era was beginning, but the Kansas City jazz sound he helped pioneer would live on through the alumni of this incredible orchestra. - Three Perfect Minutes (