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Never too much Basie

The Complete Roulette Studio Recordings
The Complete Roulette Studio Recordings
By Count Basie

Mosaic Records: 1993

This review first appeared in the December 3, 1994 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

Mosaic Records, that quirky mail-order only company that specializes in lavishly produced boxed sets of jazz greats, has outdone itself with its newest collection.

On the heels of 1991's "The Complete Roulette Live Recordings of Count Basie" comes the studio set, 10 CDs strong.

This perios (1959-62) was Basie's renaissance. With a powerhouse band of mostly younger musicians, fronted by the inimitable Joe Williams on vocals, this edition of the Basie Band featured such standout soloists as trumpeters Thad Jones and Snooky Young, and saxophonists Frank Foster and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. And a certain arranger named Quincy Jones got his start with this Basie Band. It all came together in the last real hit song by a big band, "Everyday I Have the Blues."

But the music – as wonderful as it is, as stellar teh production (taken from the original masters) – is only part of the package. The accompanying heavy-stock folio, featuring the relaxed, timeless photography of Chuck Stewart and insightful, historical essay by Basie biographer Chris Sheridan, is a large part of what makes this boxed set so oustanding.

Is 10 CDs of any musician too much? Maybe with some artists, but even with 10 hours of Basie you're unlikely to ever grow tired of the material here. You may find yourself listening to little of the rest of your music collection, but you won't tire of this release.