Count Basie & His Orchestra: Exactly Like You

“Exactly Like You” has been a jam session staple for years, but when Count Basie recorded it on his second Decca session, it was still fairly new territory. Despite recordings by Louis Armstrong, the Casa Loma Orchestra and the Benny Goodman Trio, the song had failed to catch on with jazz musicians. However in 1937, the floodgates opened as several jazz groups recorded versions of the song. Basie’s was the first version made that year, and its joyful nature made it a classic. The arrangement is probably by Fletcher Henderson or Don Redman, but Basie’s band was not filled with talented readers and some of the section work is rather sloppy. But one didn’t listen to Basie for skillfully played arrangements; Basie’s was a soloist’s band, and many of the band’s stars play excellent solos on this track. After the band introduction, Basie plays the melody for a few bars before moving into a solo featuring his minimalist stride style. On the bridge, Jack Washington gets his first recorded baritone sax solo and we can hear that he could play as lightly as Lester Young, even on the bigger horn. The band plays the written parts for the next chorus and leads into Jimmy Rushing’s vocal chorus, and just as Washington had learned from Young, Rushing had learned from the band’s new female vocalist, Billie Holiday. This may the most Billie-esque chorus Rushing ever recorded. Like Billie, Rushing flattens out much of the melody to a single note, and then he rides that note in a great display of rhythmic vitality. Buck Clayton offers a running commentary along with the saxes, and by the time the chorus ends, the band is swinging mightily. And that’s when Lester Young enters with a dancing half-chorus that just adds to the excitement. Lester’s sound was still quite novel at this time—his first recording was made only 5 months earlier—but it is the placement of the notes rather than the notes themselves that make it such a catalyst for increasing the band’s swing. And while Bobby Moore’s brief trumpet solo is well-played, it sounds like he struggles to maintain the energy that Lester created. Nonetheless, there's plenty of energy left for the band to play a spirited coda.

September 04, 2009 · 0 comments

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Ruby Braff & Ellis Larkins: Exactly Like You

Ruby Braff and Ellis Larkins were great duet partners, bringing out the best qualities in each other. Braff could always spin gorgeous melodies from the lower range of his cornet, and Larkins could always create beautiful harmonic backgrounds, but together, there was spontaneity and humor that added to the interplay. “Exactly Like You” was recorded for their 1972 LP The Grand Reunion but not released until the album was reissued on CD a quarter-century later. Larkins plays the introduction and first chorus solo. For the most part, he plays the melody in parallel thirds in his right hand while walking in parallel tenths with his left. Larkins doesn’t keep this pattern throughout the chorus, as he freely breaks it to comment on the melody and to add variety. When Braff enters, Larkins seems transformed and he plays an animated accompaniment with delightful walking bass lines and bright splashes of chordal color. Braff’s solo starts off with poignant lines, but as he listens and responds to Larkins’ commentary, he adds stunning runs and gets sassier as the solo continues. Larkins takes an 8-bar solo on the bridge with a pithy remark in his right hand and classic stride in the left. In the next 8 bars, it sounds like Larkins wants to lead Braff into a more serious mood, but neither seems ready to give up the lighter mood entirely. As the performance winds down, the last comments of each player seems to reflect the playful mood evoked earlier.

September 04, 2009 · 0 comments

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Dizzy Gillespie & Stan Getz: Exactly Like You

This all-star session brought together two of the period’s leading performers, who normally ran in different circles. Although tenor saxophonist Stan Getz was associated with the 1950s cool school, he always played with a hearty sense of swing, so he and hot bebop trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie go together well. The superb Oscar Peterson Trio, augmented by pioneer bebop drummer Max Roach, constitutes their nonpareil rhythm section.

November 01, 2007 · 0 comments

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