Selected liner note quotes from: Count Basie and his Orchestra - The Columbia Years (4 CD set)

Author: Loren Schoenberg
Date: June 2003

"The Count Basie band heard on these recordings has been frequently referred to as the "Old Testament" band, rather too neatly leaving the "New Testament" appellation for the unit of the 1950's. This is actually quite misleading, for in almost every way this group was far more creative and modern than any of the later Basie bands. The soloists were superior, the arrangements far more original, and perhaps most significantly, the band's rhythm section was simply one of the best in the entire history of jazz. The man truly responsible for that concept was neither the leader nor the band's resident genius, Lester Young. It was the bassist Walter Page (1900 - 1957), who had developed a unique approach that managed to sustain the spontaneity of a jazz small group within the more formal confines of a larger ensemble."

"Page's music teacher at Kansas City's Lincoln High School was the legendary Major N. Clark Smith. In 1918, shortly after graduating, the young bassist joined pianist Bennie Moten's orchestra and during five years there continued formal studies (piano, voice, violin, saxophone, composition, and arranging) at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. He then joined a road band. It broke up, he took it over, and this in turn led to the formation of Walter Page's Blue Devils, the band that brought together Basie, Eddie Durham, Jimmy Rushing, Hot Lips Page, and many of the others who went on to develop what Page had created into what became known as "Kansas City Jazz."

"The bassist was particularly proud of his ability to sight-read difficult music, and his total professionalism was legendary in the region. Indeed, the other members of Basie's famous rhythm section - guitarist Freddie Green, drummer Jo Jones, and the pianist himself - all have credited Page with teaching them how they should play their instruments in order to realize what he was hearing in his head. It began with bringing the volume down and the intensity up, giving them the space in which to create the meshing of timbres that resulted in one organic, indivisible whole. Later there would be the pacing of the performance, and the counterpoint* of the bass line, as well as the way the rhythm section made it sound as if they were breathing the beat..."

[*Editor's note: Not only counterpoint from the bass line, but also counterpoint from the guitar line.]

The Style | Recordings | Biographical Info | Photos | Additional Info | Contact Us | Post Comments | Home Page