Book Excerpt: Swing Legacy
Author: Chip Deffaa
With the exception of a few months in 1950, Green has been in the Basie
Band continuously since 1937. He remains the heart of the rhythm section
- some would say the heart of the band. Deftly, evenly playing his unamplified
instrument (he virtually never takes a solo), his contributions are intended
to be felt rather than really heard by listeners. He serves as a kind
of spiritual director, as a keeper of the flame, who knows what the Basie
Band is all about.
The band began recording "Good Time Blues". Green stopped the
take almost immediately. "Hold it! Hold it a minute!" he broke
in over his mike. He told bassist Lynn Seaton: "Don't come in so
quick. Give him [pianist Tee Carson] a little chance. Then you come in."
They started again, with Seaton letting Carson play a bit longer piano
As the band ran down "You've Got It", an old Frank Foster number being revived for the session, Green interjected: "Why are we running away with the tempos? Why don't we groove some of these things?" He was right: The band was pushing the number; it sounded forced, rather that confidently swinging in the traditional Basie manner. In most bands, the idea of a guitarist interrupting a number because he was unhappy with the tempo would be unheard of. But after nearly 50 years in the band, Green feels he has earned his say about how things are played. And as the session continued, it became apparent that members of the Basie Band generally seem to feel more of an investment in the band than musicians in most bands. They all care about the end results.