Book Excerpt: Swing Legacy

Author: Chip Deffaa
Copyright: 1989
Publisher: Scarecrow Press - Metuchen, New Jersey
ISBN: 0-8108-2282-2

Page 60
Among the numbers Buck Clayton arranged for Basie's band was "Down For Double". Guitarist Freddie Green supplied the initial idea for "Down For Double", which became a solid favorite with the band. Clayton said "Freddie hummed it and asked if I'd make the arrangement."

Page 61
And who was Buck Clayton's closest friend in the Basie band? "Freddie Green. I still stay in touch with him, but he's on the road so much."

Page 141
On June 26, 1939, Freddie Green recorded some sides released under the billing Glenn Hardman and his Hammond Five. The personnel consisted of Glenn Hardman - organ, Lee Castle - trumpet, Lester Young - tenor sax and clarinet, Jo Jones - drums, and Freddie Green - guitar. The personnel were assembled by John Hammond.

Page 270
The musicians took their seats and the recording engineer asked each to play something so they could make sound checks. After the 75 year old Freddie Green strummed a typically brief bit, and engineer asked if "the guitar player" could give him some more. The guitar player replied curtly: "Ain't got no more."

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.
Green has uncompromising standards. Frank Foster may have been the actual leader, but if Green thought anything was going down less than perfectly during the session, he never hesitated to speak out.

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 intro.
A bit later on, everyone seemed satisfied, listening to the playback of the first take of "Corner Pocket." But Green felt that drummer Dennis Mackrel needed fill up one spot more. "You're capable of doing it," he prodded. "This sounds like a cop out." The second take met with Green's nod of approval.

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.

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