Count Basie: Honeysuckle Rose


Honeysuckle Rose


Count Basie (piano)


The Complete Decca Recordings (GRP 112)

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Count Basie (piano),

Buck Clayton, Joe Keyes, Carl Smith (trumpets), George Hunt, Dan Minor (trombones), Caughey Roberts, Herschel Evans, Lester Young, Jack Washington (reeds), Claude Williams (guitar), Walter Page (bass), Jo Jones (drums)


Composed by Fats Waller and Andy Razaf


Recorded: New York, January 21, 1937


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

With Walter Page and Jo Jones standing firm behind him, Count Basie’s two stride piano choruses at the opening of “Honeysuckle Rose” tie the aggressive rhythms of Kansas City to the swinging life of Harlem. Then come the Count’s men, amping up the infectious upbeat and bringing in Midwestern riffs that sound suspiciously like “Tea for Two.” (The most danceable “Tea for Two” you’ve ever heard, that is.) Meantime, Lester Young demonstrates that his ethereal, hollow sound is as capable of charging through the swingers as it is of floating through the ballads and mid-tempos. Listening 70 years later, we can also hear how his solos rewrote the saxophone vocabulary: There are phrases in Young’s single chorus that were later borrowed and developed by Paul Gonsalves, Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, all the way through Branford Marsalis and Joshua Redman—and this inside less than 40 seconds of music. No wonder they called him the President.

Reviewer: Michael J. West

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