Count Basie: Dark Rapture
Count Basie (piano)
The Complete Decca Recordings (GRP 112)
Count Basie (piano),
Buck Clayton, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Ed Lewis (trumpets), Dicky Wells, Dan Minor, Benny Morton (trombones), Earl Warren, Herschel Evans, Lester Young, Jack Washington (reeds), Freddie Green (guitar), Walter Page (bass), Jo Jones (drums), Helen Humes (vocals).
Composed by Benny Goodman, Manny Kurtz & Edgar Sampson.
Recorded: New York, November 16, 1938
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
“Dark Rapture” is a taut showpiece for singer Helen Humes that ranks among the glossiest productions of the early Basie years. Not coincidentally, it’s also among the least typical: There are no riffs, no blues, the call-and-response lines are reduced to short fills, and though Basie is listed as pianist, his trademark tinkling is nowhere to be heard. There are, however, two factors that inject some character into the proceedings: Humes’ exquisite control and enthusiasm, which together allow for some remarkable vocal gymnastics—check out her reading of the final line,The thrill that fills the still of a Congo night—and eighteen smoky bars by Lester Young that add a mysterious, noir-ish dimension to an already dark and dramatic performance. (In essence, he scores the scene in which Bogart would walk into the crowded but dimly lit nightclub and spy Lauren Bacall on the dance floor; the only thing missing is the movie.) Kansas City blues it ain’t, but it’s intriguing nonetheless.
Reviewer: Michael J. West