Book Excerpt: Count Basie
Book: Count Basie
Author: Alun Morgan
Publisher: Hippocrene Books - New York
Pages 28 - Freddie on Basie
On Jo Jones's right sat Freddie Green, probably the greatest rhythm
guitarist in the history of jazz. He was called, with perfect truth, Basie's
left hand. As he explained, "Basie's piano certainly contributes
to making the rhythm smooth. He contributes the missing things. I feel
very comfortable working with him because he always seems to know the
right thing to play for rhythm. Count is also just about the best piano
player I know for pushing a band and for comping soloists. I mean the
way he makes different preparations for each soloist and the way, at the
end of his solos, he prepares an entrance for the next man. He leaves
the way open."
Page 54 - Freddie and Sonny Payne
Drummer Sonny Payne was inclined to send up rockets when the music called
for indirect lighting. He also had a tendency to rush the beat and, for
a time, Freddie Green kept a long stick with which he poked Sonny when
the time started to go awry.
Page 64 - Basie on Recording an Album without Freddie
Called "For The First Time" the record was just that, for Basie
had never previously recorded in a guitarless trio setting. "That
was Norm's (Norman Granz) idea" Basie told John McDonough in 1975.
"You know it wasn't mine. But it was real fun. In fact we've just
finished another trio session with my bass player, Norm Keenan, and Louis
Bellson, but this time we added Zoot Sims. It's mostly blues and some
other things. Norman Granz is a blues man you know. I guess he didn't
want a guitar. For myself, Freddie Green definitely fills out a rhythm
section. But there are times we want to play around a little and get loose.
Fred keeps you in there, you know - pretty strict".
Page 67 - Setting Tempos
Bill Coss described the way Count eases the band into a performance: "You'll
often see and hear Freddie and the Count playing introductions which may
be several choruses long, changing tempos, checking with each other, finding
the groove which pleases them most, (Basie smiling with evident glee and
Freddie nodding with sophisticated satisfaction when they reach that point),
then the Count's right foot, which is most often wound around the chair
until then, kicks out, there is a sound of the command and the band is
unleashed in all its fury."
Basie himself was probably thinking of the time-restrictions
of record making when he spoke of getting started: "I don't think
that a band can really swing on just a kick-off, you know; I think you've
got to set the tempo first. If you can do it the other way, that's something
else. Anyway, we do it our way. I set it with Freddie, sometimes for a
couple of choruses. That's it, see. We fool with it and we know we've
got it, like now." The creation of a floating beat, a four-man rhythm
section which thinks, breathes, and plays as one, is something which has
eluded many, even the Basie band itself when Basie was absent."
Page 69 - Relationship between the Count and Freddie
"Except for Freddie Green nobody really knows Bill (Basie)",
says a veteran member of the band. "He keeps in most of what he feels,
and the face he presents to the public is usually the one we see too.
Once in a great while he'll explode or do something else that isn't in
keeping with the usual picture of him, but he quickly picks up his customary
role. And from time to time, we'll see Freddie Green lecturing him off
to one side - never the other way around. But I don't know what those
conversations are about."