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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke

Count Basie/Zoot Sims

Basie & Zoot

Pablo Original Jazz Classics OJCCD 822-2


Amazon UK midprice 


  1. I Never Knew
  2. It’s Only a Paper Moon
  3. Blues for Nat Cole
  4. Captain Bligh
  5. Honeysuckle Rose
  6. Hardav
  7. Mean to Me
  8. I Surrender Dear

Count Basie – Piano/Organ Zoot Sims – Tenor Sax John Heard – Bass Louis Bellson – Drums

When this album was recorded in 1975, Zoot was 50 and Basie was 71. It was probably a long time since the Count had worked with a jazz quartet, but it was what Zoot did most of the time. It is not surprising therefore that Zoot sounds the most relaxed of the two jazz superstars.

The music is straightforward Mainstream Swing played with great flair by the two leaders, with superb support from Louis Bellson and Bass player John Heard. The record was produced by Norman Granz and no doubt came from his method of putting some good jazz musicians in a studio and seeing what happens! It sounds crude, but it produced some superb albums.

Basie always gave Fats Waller a lot of credit for teaching him to play stride piano and also organ; both these skills are in evidence on this album. Zoot first came to the notice of the public in the Woody Herman ‘Four Brothers Band’; his ability to play with any kind of band was exceptional. I heard him play many times and he always gave 110%, no matter with whom he had to play. He in fact wandered the world playing with local musicians and in nearly every case they; they rose to the occasion.

His timing is incredible, just listening to him on ‘I Never Knew’ made me realise what a sad loss it was for the jazz world when he died in 1985.

Louis Bellson and John Heard provide the kind of support every front line player would like to have, always listening to the soloist and complementing his/her performance.

As you would expect there is a generous helping of the blues here, the Basie Band always had that in it’s repertoire and it was nice to hear ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ Fats Waller’s tune again, as well as ‘I Surreder, Dear’.

A pleasant album of easy listening jazz.


Don Mather

Don Mather is a Saxophone Player and Bandleader based in Coventry

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