Count Basie: Michelle
Count Basie (piano, organ)
Basie's Beatle Bag (Universal/Polygram 2613)
Count Basie (piano, organ),
Al Aarons, Sonny Cohn, Wallace Davenport, Phil Guilbeau (trumpets), Henderson Chambers, Al Grey, Grover Mitchell, Bill Hughes (trombones), Bobby Plater (alto sax, flute), Marshall Royal (alto sax, clarinet), Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis (tenor sax), Eric Dixon (tenor sax, flute), Charlie Fowlkes (baritone sax, flute), Freddie Green (guitar), Norman Keenan (bass), Sonny Payne (drums).
Composed by Lennon/McCartney; arranged by Chico O’Farrill.
Recorded: Hollywood, CA, May 3-5, 1966
Rating: 84/100 (learn more)
"Michelle" is one of Paul McCartney's many love songs, but the chromatic movement in the melody and descending guitar line, sublime harmonies, subtly swinging beat, and even a jazz-inspired solo by George Harrison made it one of the more intricate ballads in the Beatles' songbook. Not surprisingly, "Michelle" is the tune that translates most easily into Count Basie's vernacular on Basie's Beatle Bag, a qualitatively mixed bag recorded five months to the day after Rubber Soul was released in the U.S. Chico O'Farrill's arrangement opens solidly with a typical swinging intro by the Count and a "Li'l Darlin'"-inspired fully voiced ensemble rendition of the verse containing nice movement from the inner horns. Basie's spare reading of the next 8 bars of the melody (supported only by bass and gentle cymbal) emphasizes the sexier side of McCartney's romanticism. After a muted trumpet improvisation over the second verse, the arrangement begins to lose its direction and is ultimately saved only by its brevity.
Reviewer: Matt Leskovic