Compilations Celebrate Count Basie's 100th

In celebration of William "Count" Basie's centennial, Blue Note Records is releasing a pair of two-disc sets.

In celebration of William "Count" Basie's centennial, Blue Note Records is releasing a pair of two-disc sets. A reissue of Roulette Records' "The Count Basie Story" and the newly compiled "Count Basie & Friends 100th Birthday Bash" are due Tuesday (Aug. 24), three days after the legendary big band leader's birthdate.

Compiled by Billy Vera and Michael Cuscuna, "Basie & Friends" lines up 28 tracks from the late 1950s. Most were released through Roulette, a label owned by Morris Levy, who also owned New York's Birdland, a regular venue for Basie and His Orchestra.

The "Friends" of the set's title are substantial. Vocalists featured throughout the two discs are Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughan and Tony Bennett, with Nat King Cole, Irene Reid, Billy Eckstine and the vocal group Lambert, Hendricks & Ross also represented.

Tenor saxophonist Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis' trio, which featured organist Shirley Scott, also appears, as do tenor saxophonists Ben Webster and Illinois Jacquet, who are singled out as guest soloists on recordings of "Blue and Sentimental" and "She's Funny That Way," respectively.

At the dawn of the 1960s and a few years into his Roulette relationship, the decision was made to celebrate Basie's silver anniversary by re-recording many of his '30s and '40s hits with his current band. Sessions for "The Count Basie Story" were produced by Teddy Reig at Capitol's New York studio, with recordings of all but three songs taking place in June-July 1960.

The original versions had appeared on such storied labels as OKeh, Decca, Columbia and Vocalion. Through this project, Roulette was able to release versions of such Basie highlights as Lester Young's "Lester Leaps In," originally recorded by Basie's act in 1939, the 1944 Basie/Bob Russell composition "Shorty George," Earl Warren's "9:20 Special" and Basie's homage to his New Jersey roots, "Red Bank Boogie," written with trumpeter Buck Clayton.

"In 1960, this was a trip down Memory Lane for fans of the old Basie band," Vera writes in the liner notes. "Today, most of those old fans are gone, as is the Count and most of his guys. Memories can add a sentimental touch to the enjoyment of music, but the music of Count Basie needs not nostalgia. His music speaks for itself."

Here is the "Count Basie & Friends 100th Birthday Bash" track list:

Disc one:
"Goin' to Chicago" (vocals by Joe Williams and Lambert, Hendricks & Ross)
"I Want a Little Girl" (vocal by Nat King Cole)
"Teach Me Tonight" (vocals by Joe Williams and Sarah Vaughan)
"The Late Late Show"
"Lonesome Lover Blues" (vocal by Billy Eckstine)
"Blue and Sentimental" (guest soloist Ben Webster)
"Trav'lin' Light" (vocal by Joe Williams)
"Farouk" (featuring the Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis Small Group)
"For Lena and Lennie"
"Untouchable" (vocal by Irene Reid)
"Everyday (I Have the Blues)" (vocal by Joe Williams)
"I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" (vocal by Tony Bennett)

Disc two:
"Jumpin' at the Woodside" (vocals by Lambert, Hendricks & Ross)
"Li'l Darlin'"
"If I Were a Bell" (vocals by Joe Williams and Sarah Vaughan)
"Ain't No Use" (vocal by Joe Williams)
"Until I Met You (Corner Pocket)" (vocal by Sarah Vaughan)
"She's Funny That Way" (guest soloist Illinois Jacquet)
"The Late Late Show" (vocal by Nat King Cole)
"Jeepers Creepers" (vocal by Tony Bennett)
"Jelly Jelly" (vocal by Billy Eckstine)
"Katy Do"
"Save Your Love for Me" (featuring the Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis Small Group)
"April in Paris"
"One O'clock Jump"

Here is "The Count Basie Story" track list:

Disc one:
"Down for Double"
"Lester Leaps In"
"Jumpin' at the Woodside"
"Taps Miller"
"Shorty George"
"Doggin' Around"
"Avenue C"
"Jive at Five"
"Rock-a-bye Basie"
"Moten Swing"

Disc two:
"Swingin' the Blues"
"Sent for You Yesterday"
"Tickle Toe"
"Blue and Sentimental"
"Time Out"
"9:20 Special"
"Red Bank Boogie"
"Every Tub"
"Dickie's Dream"
"Texas Shuffle"
"Out the Window"
"Boogie Woogie (I May Be Wrong)"
"Good Morning Blues"
"Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You"