[Monday Notes n.9] Count Basie’s music has its roots in Kansas City and in the blues. His contribution to the development of jazz was remarkable, both for his innovations in the rhythm section and for his use of riffs, i.e. repeated phrases, very simple and effective, which can be adapted to different chords without the need for changes or corrections.
We can hear an example at minute 0’45”, where the riff is played by the trumpets as a background for the tenor sax solo:
As we can see, the chords change in measure 5 and 9 but the riff remains the same. Another peculiarity of Count Basie is his use of the piano, with an unobtrusive left hand and the right playing in the high register, as we can hear in minute 1’51”.
At the same point, one can hear the double bass playing a sturdy walking bass and the guitar accenting all four movements of the beat. These elements were highly innovative and became the typical accompaniment of swing orchestras.
Count Basie and his big band thus played a fundamental role in the development of the modern big band swing style. Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, two protagonists of the bebop period, are also linked to Count Basie’s pianism.
Until next Monday!