Quotes & Anecdotes:

Click on a name (listed alphabetically) for a quick link or scroll down the page to read all of the quotes.

Basie, William "Count"
Bellson, Louis
Berendt, Joachim Ernst
Blumenthal, Bob
Brookmeyer, Bob
Bunch, John
Burr, Jon
Burrell, Kenny
Carmichael, Judy
Cheney, Bill
Clarke, Kenny "Klooks"
Dance, Stanley
Deffaa, Chip
Down Beat Magazine
Duvivier, George
Edison, Harry "Sweets"
Elwood, Philip
Feather, Leonard
Foster, Frank
From Spirituals To Swing
Gitler, Ira
Green, Al
Graydon, Jay
Green, Freddie
Grey, Al

Hall, Jim
Hammond, John
Heckman, Don
Hendrickson, Al
Holiday, Billie
Johnson, Henry
Jones, "Papa" Jo
Jones, Quincy
Jones, Jo
Kart, Larry
Katz, Dick
Kaye, Carol
King, B.B.
Larsson, Terje
Leonhart, Jay
Lewis, John
Marsalis, Wynton
McCain, John
Mills, Donald
Montgomery, Wes
Paul, Les
Pettersen, Michael
Peyroux, Madeleine
Pisano, John
Pizzarelli, Bucky

Quinichette, Paul
Rhett, Walter
Rowe, Monk
Rubin, Dave
Schneider, Eric
Shaughnessy, Ed
Shaw, Artie
Shaw, Marlena
Sheridan, Chris
Simmons, Samuel "Lonnie"
Smith, Hal
Stowell, John
Terry, Clark
Taylor, Billy
Ulanov, Barry
Visser, Joop
Weinstein, Aaron
Wells, Dickie
Wikipedia Web Site
Woodward, III, Aaron A.
Woodyard, Sam
Young, Jim
Young, Lester
Zwerin, Mike


Count Basie in Downbeat 1939 on his rhythm section: "No Rhythm Worries"

"I am sure that the rhythm section is right as it is. It's the one section that has given us no trouble at any time. And when I speak of the rhythm, I mean bass, drums and guitar. You can count me out."

Source: Critics In The Doghouse: Basie Examines Basie, Downbeat 07/01/1939, An Exclusive Online Extra: http://www.downbeat.com/default.asp?sect=stories&subsect=story_detail&sid=164

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Count Basie on Freddie Green's place in jazz history:

In the "Musicians' Musicians" balloting conducted by this writer for the Encyclopedia of Jazz, Basie voted for Ellington in the "Big Band" and "Arranger" catagories. Basie and Ellington, in a spirit of mutual respect, have never tried to steal musicians from one another, though by chance a few men have worked in both bands (notably Clark Terry, Paul Gonslaves, and Butch Ballard). Basie's other poll selections, incidentally, for "All Time Greatest", included Joe Williams for male vocal, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan for female vocal, and the following instrumentalists: Louis Armstrong on trumpet, the late Jimmy Harrison on trombone, Johnny Hodges on alto sax, Coleman Hawkins on tenor sax, Harry Carney on baritone sax, Benny Goodman and Buddy De Franco on clarinet, Frank Wess on flute, Lionel Hampton on vibes, Art Tatum onpiano, Freddie Green on guitar, no choice on drums, Bill Davis and Bill Doggett on organ in the miscellaneous category.

Count Basie on the nicknames of Basie band members:

In the rhythm section Freddie Green is Pep, Eddie Jones is Jonesy, and Basie himself is known variously as The Chief, Base, and Bill.

Excerpts from the 1960 booklet "The Count Basie Story" by Leonard Feather.
This booklet was included with the two LP set "The Count Basie Story"; Roulette Birdland Series [S] RB-1.

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Count Basie interviewed by Max Barker
Date: 1963
Place: New York City

Have you retained Freddie Green because you prefer to hear a guitar in a rhythm section or only because he happens to be an essential ingredient of the band?

Basie: "Well, it is both. He is a sort of hold-together. A guy you hear, yet don't hear, but always know whether he is there or not. Not a soloist of any kind, but a lot as far as holding things together is concerned. If he is not in the section we miss him greatly and we feel it. For example, recently we did some tapes with a small group of original band members for radio station WNEW and Freddie could not make the session. One could literally hear the gaps in the tapes and you could almost hear Freddie there although he was not."

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Count Basie on Freddie Green:
Book: Jazz At Ronnie Scott's
Author: Kitty Grime
Copyright: 1979
Page: 99
Supplied by: Jazz-Institut Darmstadt

"Freddie Green has been my right arm for thirty years. And if he leaves the band one day, I'll probably leave with him."

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Selected Quotes from the Article: Freddie Green: All-American Rhythm Guitarist
Author: Hal Smith
Source: Jazz Rambler Newsletter; Jan/Feb 2000; Volume 8 Number 1

Count Basie called Freddie Green the "tieup" man of the rhythm section.

"He actually holds the band together", Basie said.

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Count Basie from a recorded interview
Source: Jazz Profiles: Count Basie's World - eight part radio series
Episode: The New Testament Band
Air Date: November 2004 on National Public Radio
Producer: Jim Luce

Narration: Basie knew things would be just right [with his new big band formed in the1950's] as long as guitarist Freddie Green was still around to help him set tempos.

Basie: "We've only got one tough rule in this band. And that's that cat that plays that guitar. See, everybody's got to listen to him, you know. And he ain't going to let you go noooo...where. Keeps you right straight...can't move. Keeps it together."

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Louis Bellson Quote about Freddie Green's Guitar Technique
Book: A New History of Jazz
Author: Alyn Shipton
Copyright: 2001
Publisher: Continuum Publishers - London, England
ISBN: 0-8264-4754-6
Page: 313

This quote dates from July 13, 1999 in a conversation with the author:

"Freddie Green to me was one of the greatest rhythm players I have heard in my life. He had a certain stroke with the right hand that really was a great marriage to the right hand of a drummer, to the right hand of a bass player, and the right hand of a pianist. It was something that you had to watch because his stroke was not straight up and down, more this way - from the top of the fretboard and back - moving forward about three or four inches and back again, with a light pulsation on beats 2 and 4. He was just loud enough so you could feel it. He blended so perfectly with the bass, the piano, and the drums that if you talk about four guys that were married - that Basie rhythm section - that was it!"

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German jazz critic Joachim Ernst Berendt:

"The supreme representative of the rhythmic chord style of playing is Freddie Green, the most faithful of all Count Basie band members, from 1937 until the Count's death in 1984. (Green himself died three years later.) Indeed, what is meant by the concept "Basie" is no small degree to Freddie Green's credit: the tremendous unity of the Basie rhythm sections. Nowhere else in jazz did rhythm become "sound" to the degree it did with Basie, and this sound, basically, is featured, yet he is one of the most dependable guitarists in jazz history. Green is the only guitarist who surmounted the breach created by Charlie Christian as if there had been no breach at all. Green by the way, has a very prosperous successor on today's rock, jazz-rock, funk, and soul scene: Cornell Dupree, who plays the kind of dependable rhythm guitar that Green has played for six decades in the Basie band. His playing, of course, is enriched by the many developments in the music since then."

Source: 'The Guitar' in: The Jazz Book by Joachim Ernst Berendt, taken from 'The Guitar in Jazz: an Anthology' edited by James Sallis, 1996.

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Liner Notes Author: Bob Brookmeyer
Recording: Stretching Out
Leaders: Bob Brookmeyer
Date: 1958
Label: United Artists UAS-5023
LP Catalog Number: UAS-5023
Re-released in 2004 on CD as: Bob Brookmeyer; Mosaic 9 Select B2-95063

This all wouldn't have been possible without Harry Edison and Freddie Green you know. They know as much about the kind of music I feel as any men who ever lived. They have earned - with no caterwauling about travel, working conditions, the plight of the "jazzman" in America today and related rot - the living respect and love of many musicians and listeners, especially those who were around to sop up that Basie band in the early 1940's. They are, truly, GIANTS; yesterday through, and inclusive of, tomorrow. Not an awful lot of that caliber here any more but they're enough. Ed Jones, Hank Jones, Zoot Sims, and Al Cohn are of the same mind about all this too, so if you all can't agree in the world who is right, we'll wait for you to catch up if you'll hurry.

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Liner Notes by: Bob Blumenthal
Recording: "The Jazz Giants '56" Verve LP VE-1-2527

Freddie Green, with Jo Jones half of the Basie rhythm section, has carved for himself the most distinctive and unobtrusive niche in jazz. At this writing (1978) he has been in Basie's ranks for more than forty years, strumming his unamplified guitar in sync with the beat as the band roared around him. The collected recorded solos of Freddie Green probably won't fill an album, yet he has won critics' polls as best guitarist for the galvanizing impact he imparts to his regular gig, and the literally hundreds of record sessions he has made.

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Pianist, John Bunch

When I was the musical director for Tony Bennett, I got to know some of the guys in Basie's band, but not Freddie--he kept to himself. I often rode on the band bus as I preferred being with the band guys, since that is the life I enjoyed while with Woody Herman and Benny Goodman. Freddie usually rode up in the front seat behind the bus driver, and across the aisle from Bill Basie. Freddie was the real basis for that "Basie feel" unique to the band.

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Freddie Green Refuses To Perform
Source: Email from bassist Jon Burr to Michael Pettersen.
Jon was the bassist for Tony Bennett during the 1980's.
Date: August 12, 2003

"A recently released DVD features Tony Bennett and Count Basie at Carnegie Hall in the early 1980's. I played that event, but Freddie Green did not. Freddie's chair and music stand were there in the Basie Orchestra, but Freddie did not perform.

"There were two occasions, amongst the many we (Tony Bennett's group) worked with Freddie Green, where his chair was empty. The two occasions were that Carnegie Hall taping, and Reagan's Inauguration Ball. Both involved televison technical crews and hysterical, disrespectful television supervisory personnel. Freddie had no tolerance for such behavior, and his attitude was supported and respected by the members of the band. If Freddie didn't like the scene, he had earned the right to take a walk."

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Kenny Burrell on Freddie Green and rhythm guitar:
Book: Jazz At Ronnie Scott's
Author: Kitty Grime
Copyright: 1979
Page: 99
Supplied by: Jazz-Institut Darmstadt

"Well, you know there's quite a big involvement playing rhythm guitar. You've got a rhythm thing going where you have to coordinate your thing with the rest of the cats. Then you've got to get a sound out of the instrument. You can't just 'plank, plank, plank'. You have lines, moving lines that blend in with what the bass line is doing. And Freddie Green is a master of this. The thing about it to me is that it is fun. You've got to play your four, or three, or whatever you're playing, but within the limitation make a beautiful line come through all of that, and still keep the rhythm going, and get a good sound."

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Kenny Burrell
Periodical: Metronome
Article: Jazz Guitar: Front And Center
Date: June 1958

"I'm going over to Birdland. Basie's closing tonight and the band has a wild spirit. Freddie Green plays so easy, but what comes out, comes out so strong."

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Jazz pianist Judy Carmichael shares her memories of Freddie Green - the mentor:

"Freddie Green was on my first record, And Basie Called Her 'Stride' , and he was a wonderful friend and supporter. I think once Freddie and Harold Jones commited to the recording session, Marshal Royal and Red Callender had to say "Yes", just to see why Harold and Freddie liked me! I was a nervous wreck, but Freddie kept smiling at me throughout and helped me keep it together. It was my first session; I was 26, white, a woman, and playing with these giants. I was awed.

"The next day I went to a session Basie was doing and in between tunes Freddie waved for me to come out to him in the studio. I was in the booth with Harold Jones, Sarah Vaughan, Norman Granz, and a few others and was a bit inhibited to walk into the recording area in front of the entire band. Freddie insisted. I did and he slowly set his guitar aside, stood up, hugged me, said: "How ya feeling?" I said: "Fine". He said: "Good. Talk to you later." And I left, with Basie and the band giving me the eye. With that one gesture Freddie made me accepted by all. He knew exactly what he was doing by that statement and with one moment helped me be taken seriously by the jazz community, starting with the Basie band. My main gig then was as a pianist at Disneyland, so I needed lots of help in the "being taken seriously" department.

"Before I moved to Ney York, Freddie and I often played golf when he was playing in Los Angeles, and he always encouraged me to "keep doing what you're doing".

"My first Carnegie Hall concert was with Freddie and Red Callender, so I got that great support early on which helped me go forward with a solid framework for how I wanted to develop.

"Few knew Freddie well, so I consider myself especially fortunate to have gotten to know him as well as I did. He looked out for me and encouraged me. He was a true mentor."

And I love the Freddie Green site.

Judy Carmichael

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Memories of Freddie Green and other Basie Greats by Bill Cheney
Source: Email to Michael Pettersen, July 2005

I used to walk up to Birdland from the Metropole in Times Square with my friends Henry "Red" Allen, Teddy Wilson, J.C. Higgenbotham, Jack Teagarden, and Coleman Hawkins to catch Freddie with the Basie band. It was Henry who introduced me to Basie and Freddie. I was very young and not even sure who they all were, not knowing that I was in the presence of true jazz legends. But the first time I heard that tremendous Basie sound, my life changed. Hearing them in that small room at Birdland was stupendous. Freddie and his wonderfully swinging guitar obviously was what the Count loved to hear, and that was why they were such close friends. Freddie often sat in the band with his back against the Count's piano.

I remember one night at Birdland when Sarah Vaughan interrupted Joe Williams in the middle of a song. She came in from the street, with her hair in curlers, and sang a duet with Joe on "I Could Have Danced All Night". Johhny Carson was sitting there, cheering them on.

Being backstage after a Basie concert was awe-inspiring for me.The band members were always a most pleasant group. Once, Eric Dixon went into Sarah Vaughn's dressing room to get her autograph on an LP for me. He told her it was for a (male) pal. She laughed and said That's a likely story, Eric, you only have female friends." Apparently, Eric had female "friends" all over the world. His best pal was Sonny Payne. According to Eric, "The only trouble with Sonny is that he thinks every day should be a party".

Having been at multiple Basie performances, Freddie and I had many conversations, usually about events of the moment. I was at Basie's very last final concert. He was taken to the hospital at intermission and Ella Fitzgerald came out to announce what happened, then the show went on. After Basie passed away, I asked Freddie how it was without him. "What do you think?" he replied with a very sad look on his face.

I once asked Freddie if he thought it would be OK if I spoke to Count Basie after a concert. Freddie replied "He will be upset if you don't." The band members were trained by Basie to be polite and very friendly to everyone; they still are to this day. I could go on and on about them all.

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Kenny 'Klooks' Clarke, 1963 in Downbeat on creating new rhythms with Freddie Green in 1935:

The juices flowed full for Clarke in those days of experimentation and discovery. But it all started a bit earlier than is generally assumed, according to Clarke, when he began playing rhythmic patterns against the basic 4 or 2 in the Lonnie Simmons Band in 1935.

"Freddie Green and I got something new going with Lonnie's band at a Greenwich Village club long before the new rhythmic approach to playing drums was noticed.

We'd come to the job early-at least 45 minutes before the other players-and work out patterns. The results were swinging; you could tell. Even the waitresses enjoyed what we were doing."

Source: Kenny Clarke: View From The Seine, Downbeat 07/01/1963, An Exclusive Online Extra: http://www.downbeat.com/default.asp?sect=stories&subsect=story_detail&sid=410

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Liner notes by Stanley Dance:

One of the happiest people on these sessions was Basie's long-time counsellor and confidant, guitarist Freddie Green. "Freddie's face is like a barometer," Quincy Jones says. "Look at him and you can tell what's happening in the studio, good or bad." Three hours after the last session ended, Freddie was still listening to tapes in the control
room, the barometer apparently set to fair.

CD: Li'l Ol' Groove Maker...Basie
Label: Verve 821 799-2
Date: April 1963
Linear Notes Author: Stanley Dance

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Liner notes by Chip Deffaa

In the recording booth, an engineer asked: "Does the conductor want click?" Meaning: Does the conductor want to hear a click-track - the equivalent of a metronome - in his headphones, as an aid in keeping time? No one bothered to answer. The idea of the Basie Band needing any electronic gimmickry to help them keep time is sort of ludicrous. Especially with the rhythm section they've got.

At the heart of that section is master rhythm guitarist Freddie Green, deftly, evenly playing his unamplified instrument. Perhaps it takes another guitarist to fully appreciate Green's contributions. Bucky Pizzarelli, one of the best-known players in the field today, told me: "You could take all the guitar schools in America, and I doubt if there are two guys that could ever come out and take Freddie's place in Count Basie's Band. Because they don't train them to do that, number one. There may be a few energetic ones that studied him on the side - what makes Freddie play so great. That's a way of playing that's completely foreign to the new players. (They try to do it with an amplifier.) He's the best in the field, doing the best thing he knows how - and he's the only one that can be doing it."

But 75-year-old Green has a role beyond that of guitarist in the band. He serves as a kind of keeper of the flame, as a "spiritual director," who knows what the Basie Band is all about. (After all, except for a few months in 1950, he's been making the gig since 1937.) He has uncompromising standards, and if he thinks anything is going less than perfectly in a recording session, he doesn't hesitate to speak out.

The band had just begun recording "Good Time Blues," for example, when Green stopped the take. "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 [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 in the session, everyone seemed satisfied, listening to the playback of the first take of "Corner Pocket." But Green felt that drummer Dennis Mackrel should 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 approval.

CD: Long Live The Chief
Label: Denon CY-1018
Date: 1986
Liner notes author: Chip Deffaa

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Periodical: Down Beat
Article Title: Evolution of Jazz Guitar
Author: John S. Wilsom
Date: June 25, 1959

Meanwhile, the guitar reverted to a relatively obscure position in the rhythm section, moving into the spotlight only occasionally for highly rhythmic and directly-stated chorded solos played with a gentle touch by Carl Kress, Dick McDonough, George Van Eps, and more vigorously by Al Casey. Eddie Condon also buried himself in the rhythm section with the boast that he never took a solo. This was not as negative a position as it might appear to be for Freddie Green, who joined the Count Basie band in 1937, has been demonstrating the validity and importance of the rhythm guitarist for more than 20 years. Green has been an invaluable factor in giving the Basie band an airy and elastic rhythmic foundation that contrasts strikingly with the heavy and often lumpy thud of big bands that have dispensed with a rhythm guitar.

Contributed in part by Dave Zaworski of Down Beat (http://www.downbeat.com)

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Book: Thinking In Jazz: The Infinite Art of Improvisation
Author: Paul F. Berliner
Copyright: 1994
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0-226-04381-9

page 409 - Bassist George Duvivier speaking about the guitar's role in a rhythm section:

The misappropriation of musical space or intrusive repetition of roles that upset the soloist's flow of ideas sometimes also interfere with the formulation of parts within the rhythm section. "Some guitarists can absolutely smother the rhythm section by playing 'chunk-chunk-chunk-chunk', four beats to every measure," George Duvivier remarks. "They should play occasional fills or break the line up, because you have a drummer and a pianist. So you don't really need everyone playing on the beat like this. What they are trying to do is to imitate Freddie Green with Basie's band, but there's an art to that. Freddie Green does it without getting in the way. He's supporting, not drowning out, the others. You can always hear the bass and drums when he plays."

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Harry "Sweets" Edison reveals one real reason that Freddie Green did not play an amplified guitar in the Basie's band:

"Freddie could have been a fine soloist, and was a good soloist at one time, when it became fashionable for guitarists to play solos. Of course Charlie Christian and he were very close friends, and Christian gave him an amplifier. But whenever Freddie would lay out of the band to take his solo, the whole rhythm section used to fall apart. It got to the point where we had to do something about it. So one night I would remove the plug from Freddie's amplifier and it wouldn't work. Next night Herschel Evans would break a wire in it so it wouldn't play, and Freddie would have it fixed. Next night Prez would take the plug out, you know. And that was how we did it. I mean, the band wasn't swinging.

"At that time we had a group in the band called the Vigilantes. If there was something in the band we didn't like, we would get rid of it quick. So we finally took all the guts out of the amplifier. Freddie got ready to play one night and there was nothing there but a box. Naturally he got furious but nobody paid him any attention.

" 'Did you do this?' he asked. 'No.' we said. So he reached the point where he said, 'Well, to hell with it. I won't play any more solos.' That rang a bell with us. 'Great,' you know. So that's the reason he's not a soloist today. He probably could have been one of the best at that time, but we had to sacrifice him for the good of the band."

Source: Jazz Anecdotes; by Bill Crow; copyright 1990; Oxford University Press; ISBN 0-190505588-8

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Liner Notes Author: Philip Elwood
Recording: Rhythm Willie
Leaders: Freddie Green and Herb Ellis
Date: 1975
Label: Concord Jazz Classics
LP Catalog Number: CJ-10

The tightest rhythm section I ever heard in the bands of old was the Count Basie group of Freddie Green on guitar, Walter Page, bass, and Jo Jones, drums - Basie, when asked why he didn't emphasize his left hand when playing piano in the band answered that he had "the world's greatest rhythm section" to take care of that side of the business. Later on, Basie recorded as "Count Basie and the All-American Rhythm Section."

Guitarist Green, who joined Basie in the late 1930s and has been playing unamplified rhythm guitar with him ever since can make his presence felt and heard without ever soloing, never standing close to a microphone, or even recording as a feature artist. Like a football lineman you know he's there because of the integrity of the group not because he scores in solo displays.

The tightness of that early Basie rhythm section seem to almost come naturally. Page told me in an interview in 1954 that sometimes he felt like he and Green and Jones had stumbled on to musical perpetual motion - it just seemed to move by itself. And not insignificantly, the Basie band was the dancers' favorite.

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Jazz critic Leonard Feather:

"In the six years that separated Lang's death from so-called Christian era of electric guitar, there were only half a dozen guitarists who left footprints still discernible. Two were strictly rhythm guitarists - Eddie Condon, whose Banjo or guitar livened many a small combo jam-session but has never yet been heard in a solo role, and Freddie Green, whose imperative, rock-steady rhythm was tied like a tugboat to the Basie liner not long after it docked in New York. After nearly forty years with Basie, Green is still considered unique in his class and still has never taken anything more than a few brief, unamplified solos."

Source: 'The Guitar in Jazz' by Leonard Feather in: 'The Guitar in Jazz: an anthology' / edited by James Sallis, 1996.

"No commentary on the Basie Band would be complete without a mention of Freddie Green, the gentle hero who has played perhaps eight bars of solos in the aggregate during 38 years with Basie. No, that is not a typographical error.  Rhythm guitar is a special art, one that calls for self-effacement while rendering oneself totally indispensible. I notice Freddie particularly on "Freckle Face" but there is no place on the recording where he would not be conspicuous by his absence."

Liner Notes for CD:  Basie Big Band, Pablo PACD 2310-756-2, 1975

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Frank Foster, saxophonist with Count Basie, who also led the Basie band in the 1990s:

Source: Liner notes for the CD “Frankly Basie – Count Basie Plays the Hits of Frank Sinatra”
Date: Recorded in April 1963; reissued on CD in 1993
CD: Verve 314 519 849-2

“I think the chart “All of Me” became one of the most popular because of that little surprise wake-up couple of notes that happen after moments of silence. And that’s the chart I intend to start playing again. The difficulty, however, is that Basie was terrible about saving piano parts; he and Freddie Green, God rest both of them, were the worst at preserving their music. A lot of times the music became frayed or torn at the edges or the sheets became separated. If they had three pages, page three could be anywhere. So I don’t have a piano part on “All of Me,” and my pianist doesn’t happen to know that song. He’s a little young.”

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Source: Concert program
Event: "From Spirituals To Swing" Carnegie Hall concert
Date: Friday, December 23, 1938
Location: New York City

The New Masses Presents An Evening of American Negro Music (Dedicated to Bessie Smith)

"Freddie Green at twenty-three is the father of a large family and the operator of the finest rhythm guitar in the music business. Freddie was born in the Harlem working class and until two years ago never had enough money to join the American Federation of Musicians, Local 802. Three years ago, he played in the Palace Cafe on Lenox Avenue at $11 a week, then jumped to the Black Cat in Greenwich Village at a slight increase in salary. There he was discovered by a Basie scout who promptly put him into the union and into Basie's band."

Editor's Note: Freddie Green performed with the Count Basie Orchestra at this event. The concert was recorded and is available on CD and LP. However, the quoted paragraph above is not historically accurate. 1) Freddie was 27 in 1938, not 23. 2) He was not the father of a "large" family. 3) He was born in Charleston, South Carolina; Harlem is a section of New York City. Freddie moved to Harlem while in his early teens. 4) The "Basie scout" was John Hammond.

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Ira Gitler:

"A musician has to have something to be recognized despite the fact that he is not a soloist, and Freddie Green has it".

Source: Quotation from liner notes on the original album 'Basie Reunion', 1958, reissued and remastered 2000 on Prestige, OJCCD -1049 -2 (P-7147).

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Trombonist Al Grey:

"Basie's piano was a discreet as his personality. As early as 1937, and until his death, he disappeared into the rhythm section behind a guitar genius as humble as he was - Freddie Green, who never performed as a soloist."

Basie trombonist Al Grey - [pretending he is playing guitar]:
"Freddie Green! Freddie Green! And it used to swing, you know. But Count Basie would say, 'If you can't hear Freddie Green, you are too loud.' It sounds like a joke but this was very, very serious. That was in the days when there was no amplification on the guitar or the piano. Count Basie hated to record with microphones on his piano; he would almost defy that. And that's when Count Basie would let us know, 'Did you hear Freddie Green?' And the guys would all look around. We knew that's what made that band so great. Don't be for Freddie Green, there's no Count Basie!"

Source: DVD: Count Basie: The Jazz Collection
Produced by: Ex Nihilo - Le Sept Arte, France
Location on DVD: 26'15" to 27'25"
Copyright: 1996

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Jay Graydon – Producer/Arranger/Composer/Studio Guitarist

"At a dinner hang with the guys, I mentioned to Jimmy Wyble I had just bought a 1932 Gibson L5 that sounded incredible. We talked about how to voice the typical 3 note chords ala big band Freddie Green guitar playing. We both came to the same conclusion about the voicing concept. We agreed the tritone concept (on the D and G strings), eliminating the low E (or A) string bass note, is a good move when the roots are not practical - meaning the tritone works in the flow of the chord progression. Yeah, all of the cats knew that, but now for the best part.

Jimmy then stated Freddie would sometimes just play one note and then voice lead in a musical fashion! Wow! Jimmy then stated Freddie swung from the downbeat. That makes total sense as he was the only guitarist that was the time keeper of a band that also had a drummer.

I told Jimmy about a video of the Basie band from the 1970s. The camera panned around to Freddie playing on a side view and I noticed his string action was huge, nearly an inch high…ouch! Never a fret buzz and a huge midrange sound. I assume Freddie’s guitars never needed a fret job."

Source: Email form guitarist Jim Carlton, January 2010

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An e-mail from Freddie's son, Al Green, Executor of the Freddie Green Estate
January 20, 2006

To:  Mr. Pettersen, the Editorial Board, and Additional Contributors to The Freddie Green Web Site

I would like to personally thank each of you for the wonderful tribute you have given to my dad, "Mr. Rhythm" in the development and maintenance of this magnificent web site. Your scholarly approach in attempting to unravel the mystic around dad's technique is commendable. The site is well designed, comprehensive, educational, thoughtful and tastefully done. I am certain dad would have truly been flattered and probably a little taken back by all of the attention. "Pep" was generally unassuming, yet appreciative of the life he was fortunate to have as Basie's rhythm guitarist for 50 years.

As a young boy I always wanted my dad to play an instrument that would put him in front of the band, like "The Pres," instead of just chunk, chunk, chunking in the background. Foolish kid, little did I know that he was just chunking away at history.

I particularly love the web site's "guest book" because it includes comments and stories not only from musicians, but also of fans who personally engaged "Mr. Rhythm".

One of the reasons dad loved music so much was that in enabled him to touch people all over the world and for that he was grateful. For those of you that have allowed him to share in your life, making his life fuller, I am grateful.

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Freddie Green on Basie:

Guitarist Freddie Green, who has played with every Basie rhythm section, and who perhaps knows the Count's piano playing better than anyone else, has been moved to say:

"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 things 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 one of his solos, he prepares an entrance for the next man. He leaves the way open."

Book:Count Basie and his Orchestra
Author: Raymond Horricks
Copyright: 1957
Publisher: The Citadel Press - New York
Pages: 58

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Freddie Green on Count Basie:

"The Count don't do much, but he does it better than anyone else."

Source unknown

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Freddie Green on the family feeling of the Basie Band:

Clearly what imbued the band with its unique incandescence in the 1930s was not its ability to rehearse, but its esprit de corps. "It's always been a family feeling", says Freddie Green. "I joined the band in Pittsburgh, after a casual audition at Roseland in New York. That was in 1937, and except for the first couple of months of the septet in 1950, I've been here ever since."

Freddie Green on Basie as a leader:

"Basie", says Freddie Green, "is a real leader - the ideal leader."

Freddie Green on Basie, the athlete:

Basie is not a great athlete. Freddie Green, a member of the band's softball team when it played the old Lunceford orchestra's team one day in Central Park, with Lester Young as the team's only pitcher, recalls that Bill (Basie) sulked on the sidelines until the team reluctantly let him play shortstop. After he had thrown his first ball not to first base but direct to the dugout, his ball playing career was deemed to have ended.

Excerpts from the 1960 booklet "The Count Basie Story" by Leonard Feather.
This booklet was included with the two LP set "The Count Basie Story"; Roulette Birdland Series [S] RB-1.

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Selected Quotes from the Article: Freddie Green: All-American Rhythm Guitarist
Author: Hal Smith
Source: Jazz Rambler Newsletter; Jan/Feb 2000; Volume 8 Number 1

Freddie Green himself delineated his role thusly,

"A performance has what I call a rhythm wave, and the rhythm guitar can help keep that wave smooth and accurate. I have to concentrate on the beat, listening to how smooth it is."

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In 1985, an interviewer asked Freddie Green if he really wanted to be heard, given his self-effacing approach to the guitar and the fact he rarely played solos. This is an excerpt from the subsequent newspaper article:

The first piece they play is called The Heat's On, and indeed it is. With 74-year-old rhythm guitarist Freddie Green leading the way - his subtle, elastic beat creating an irresistible aura of swing - one of the permanent miracles of jazz once again comes alive, as 17 instrumentalists find a common musical ground and proceed to play with a joyful yet carefully controlled abandon that has the power of a machine and humanity of a heartbeat. Then the tune ends, and in the midst of well-earned applause, the man who has been standing in front of the aggregation, a cornet in hand, turns to address the audience. "I am," he says, "Thad Jones, and this is the Count Basie Orchestra."

If there is a key figure among the men who have, as Jones said, "committed themselves to the continuation of Basie's music," it is guitarist Freddie Green, who has been in charge of what might be called the band's "rhythmic wave" for 48 years. Between sets at the Henry Street concert, an informal round-table discussion of the Basie style takes place; and the participants (Freddie Green, trombonist Dennis Wilson, pianist Tee Carson, and lead trumpeter Byron Stripling) inevitably focus on the guitarist's special role, after Carson explains that the secret of the Basie band was the way it "put roller skates on four-four time."

"As I see it," says Wilson, "there's only one thing in the band that always stays the same, one person who is going one-two-three-four. The drummer's not doing that, he's bashing here and there; the pianist goes tink now and then; and the bassist plays boom-bookity-boom. But the rhythm guitar is always laying it down. It's a felt thing more than a heard thing; and I'm not sure that Freddie really wants to be heard."

"Oh yes I do," Green says, "especially by the musicians on stage.  That's the main thing, because if they hear me, then the overall sound will come off. The band has got to feel it before the audience does."

"Not having played under Basie," adds Stripling, "it's been my job to get this music under control. And the only way I can do that is to listen to Freddie and all the other musicians in the band who really know this music. It's an oral tradition, not just a matter of notes on the page, because there are some things in the book that really can't be notated.  The only way to get the concept is to listen to what the other guys are playing. In one sense, Lil' Darlin' is the easiest chart in the book. If you can't read that, you don't belong in music. But it's the hardest chart, too, because the band doesn't just play the notes - they place them."

Larry Kart / July 14, 1985 / Chicago Tribune / "Ghost Bands: Blasts from the past keep sound tradition alive"

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Monk Rowe, Jazz Archivist and Blogger

"My own two cents about swinging, or establishing any infectious groove, is that when instruments are in balance you have a much better chance of success. The All-American Rhythm Section of the Count Basie Band of the 1930's and 40's, is often held up as the standard bearer of the swing rhythm section. I'm convinced that one thing they did that made them so successful was balancing their own volume. This was in the days before amplification, where the drummer played in a volume to match the acoustic bass and the acoustic guitar and the acoustic piano. That self-imposed balancing transformed four instruments into one unit. The rhythm section itself was one instrument."

Source: http://jazzbackstory.blogspot.com/

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Dave Rubin in Guitar One Magazine:

"Swing guitarists like Allan Reuss with (Benny) Goodman and the incomparable Freddie Green with (Count) Basie were first and foremost top rhythm men. They helped keep time along with the drummer and bassist by comping by crisp, quarter-note downstrokes with a swing feel that involves an immeasurable degree of anticipation of the beat in terms of when the pick strikes the strings. This can be an elusive rhythm to get down. Listening to recorded musical examples is probably the best teacher."

Source: Guitar One magazine; March 2002; page 180; article "Swing Intros and Turnarounds"; by Dave Rubin (http://www.guitaronemag.com)

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Jim Hall and John Lewis from the video "Jim Hall - A Life In Progress"

Jim Hall: The guy I knew probably the best in Basie's band was Freddie Green. The first time I met him was on that "Sound of Jazz" television show that Nat Hentoff helped put together. So it was a break as I had never met Freddie. So everybody left the studio and Freddie was sitting there reading a newspaper. So I was a kid and I said "Hi Freddie. Would you mind if I took a look at your guitar?" And he put his paper down and said "Yes. I would." (Hall starts to laugh) And I could feel the tears starting to come and I thought "Ah man! Why did I ask? What a dumb thing to ask!" But we became good friends afterwards.

He had a way of holding the guitar so that there was a little space here (behind the guitar) and the guitar really spoke beautifully. I heard Basie's band one time when Freddie was sick or something for a few nights. And as great as the band was, it was not the same without Freddie. He seemed to knit the whole thing together.

John Lewis (MJQ pianist): See what he (Freddie) does, he makes the whole thing float. And so the music floats which is incredible. And that floating is like he's put a wall up that you can paint on or put something on.

Jim Hall: That's a nice analogy.

John Lewis to Jim Hall: And you can do that.

Jim Hall: I had breakfast with Freddie Green and Count Basie one morning. On the way out, I said to Freddie "Do you have an fatherly advice for me?" He said, "Yeah. Always pack your bag the night before and leave your uniform on top." So I thought that's pretty good. I'm going to lead my life like that.

Video: Jim Hall - A Life in Progress
Director: Bruce Ricker
Copyright: 1999
Publisher: Rhapsody Films
Quote starts at: 33'56"
Quote ends at: 35'23"
During this 1'27" section, Freddie Green is shown playing for 20 seconds and also shown in 3 still photographs.

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Jim Hall quoted in an Acoustic Guitar magazine article

"I rarely play a full chord. I usually play little pieces of a chord so that I can move around a lot more easily. That's something I got from listening to Freddie Green. I'd hear him play just the third and the seventh of a chord and it would really stick out. So I learned how to play just the essential parts."

Publication: Acoustic Guitar
Date: May 2003
Issue: 113
Article: Grand Slam - Jim Hall Continues To Break New Ground
Page: 68
Author: Dan Ouellette

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Selected Quotes from the Article: Freddie Green: All-American Rhythm Guitarist
Author: Hal Smith
Source: Jazz Rambler Newsletter; Jan/Feb 2000; Volume 8 Number 1

John Hammond wrote:

"Jo Jones and Basie, with the inspired collaboration of Freddie Green on guitar and Walter Page on bass, brought richness of sound and subtlety to jazz rhythm, providing at the same time an unequalled list and support for the soloists."

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Publication: The 44th Annual Grammy Awards program
Page: 86
Date: February 27, 2002
Author: Don Heckman

"It was Basie who reached into his Kansas City roots to devise the classic rhythm section sound of his orchestra, driven by the subtle insinuations of Freddie Green's strumming guitar - a timeless definition of how to swing, and swing hard."

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Rhythm guitarist Al Hendrickson speaks about Freddie Green:

"I liked the sound of an Epiphone for rhythm guitar. I wanted to get a sound like Freddie Green with Count Basie's band. I didn't know what kind of guitar he played [Editor's note: Freddie played an Epiphone Emperor in the late 1930's and early 1940's, before changing to a Stromberg.] but I knew you could get a big, fat sound out of an Epiphone if you played it right. I never cared for the sound of a Gibson L-5. It sounded metallic, tinny, to me, even though it was the most popular guitar at the time [the 1930's]. It had an edgy sound. I think it was because a lot of the guitarists who switched from banjo were accustomed to having more edge.

"I did some recordings with the Capp/Pierce Orchestra (Concord CD-4040) playing my [Epiphone] DeLuxe. I also did several live performances with them. I enjoyed working with that band because it was a Basie type orchestra and gave me the opportunity to play with a great rhythm section.

"At one point, Nat Pierce went back east to fill in on piano with the Basie band when the Count was sick. Freddie Green asked Nat who had been playing guitar on those Capp/Pierce recordings. I guess it was intended as a compliment at the time when Freddie said, 'When you get back to California, I hope you break a couple of his fingers!" I guess he liked the sound I got from my DeLuxe. I never knew Freddie, but his sound in a rhythm section was something I really liked. At times, we got pretty close to the sound with Frankie Capp and Nat Pierce.

"I actually had to quit playing with Capp/Pierce because it's such hard work playing that style of acoustic guitar. I was always competing with the bass player, who plugged into an amplifier. In those clubs as the evening wore on and the patrons got noisier and the band played more and more loudly, the bass player would keep turning up the volume. I just had to keep playing harder and harder, which was just too much physical exertion after not doing it for years. I was stubborn, though, and refused to play amplified guitar. It's just not the same sound. When I was playing with the big bands regularly, I never noticed how physically demanding it was. Over the years, I'd gotten used to the routine of studio work, which allows you to play for two or three minutes at a time and then you can stop and take a break. If you play a dance job for four or five hours and want to be heard, it's really hard work."

Book: Epiphone: The House of Stathopoulo
Authors: Jim Fisch and L. B. Fred
Copyright: 1996
Publisher: Amsco Publications, New York

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Billie Holiday:

"While Benny Goodman always had big arrangements, with Basie, we had something no expensive arrangement could touch. The cats would come in, somebody would hum a tune. Then somebody else would play it over on the piano once or twice. Then someone would set up a riff, a ba-deep, a ba-dop. The Daddy Basie would two-finger a little. And then things would start to happen. Half the cats couldn't have read music if they'd had it. They didn't want to be bothered anyway. Maybe sometimes one cat would bring in a written arrangement and the others would run over it. By the time Jack Wadlin, Skeet Henderson, Buck Clayton, Freddie Green, and Basie were through running over it, taking off, changing it, the arrangement wouldn't be recognizable anyway. Everything that happened, happened by ear. For the two years I was with the band we had a book of a hundred songs, and every one of us carried every last damn note of them in our heads."

You ask her one more thing, recalling how at various times Billie has been reported ready to marry. She shows her frankness again.

"I've loved three men," she tells you. "One was a Marion Scott, when I was a kid. He works for the post office now. The other was Freddie Green, Basie's guitar man. But Freddie's first wife is dead and he has two children and somehow it didn't work out. The third was Sonny White, the pianist, but like me, he lives with his mother and our plans for marriage didn't jell. That's all."

Source: Billie for the First Time Tells Why She Left Shaw & Basie: "Too Many Bad Kicks", Downbeat 11/01/1939, An Exclusive Online Extra, an interview in Chicago, by Dave Dexter, Jr.

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Henry Johnson - Jazz Guitarist, May 2004

Freddie Green was a friend of mine as well. We met in Chicago when I started playing with Joe Williams in 1985. I was taking a solo, and when I raised my head, I looked out into the audience. There was Freddie, looking me right in the eyes and applauding. It freaked me out for a minute because I knew that the Basie Band had played in Grant Park that night, but I didn't expect to see Freddie or any of them at my gig! He came with seven other guys from the band.

After the set, Freddie came up and introduced himself to me and I interupted him right away, telling him, "Man, you don't need to tell me YOU are, I've been listening to you all of my life!" He responded with a grin and said, "Wait a minute you 'mother', I'm not THAT damn old!" Joe Williams and I bursted into long laughter as did Freddie. From that moment on, we became friends and hung out whenever we ran across each other.

I saw him a month before he died. I was talking to him about doing a book on his style and using Midi to get the music into the computer. He told me nobody was interested in learning his style, but he would think about it. And in a few short weeks, he was gone.

He was a great guy and a great musician and I really miss him, Joe, and all the great musicians I had the honor of calling my friends. Anyway, Freddie did show me a lot of things about playing his style because I was doing a lot of big band dates with Joe and needed that knowledge. Freddie was also great friends with John Collins who also shared some things with me about Freddie as well as himself.

It seems that Freddie did share some of his techniques with other players but was very selective about who the players were. I know for fact that he shared information with George Benson because George and I have spoke about it. With me, he said, "Now don't you spread what I'm showing you around, you dig?" And I promised him it would stay between he and I. As I do to this day.

Freddie was my friend and I really glad he is honored with this website.

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Selected Quotes from the Article: Freddie Green: All-American Rhythm Guitarist
Author: Hal Smith
Source: Jazz Rambler Newsletter; Jan/Feb 2000; Volume 8 Number 1

Drummer Jo Jones said

"You must remember that there were about four drummers in Basie's band. Besides Basie, there was Freddie Green..."

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"Papa" Jo Jones:

"I'm the richest drummer that's lived in fifty years, because nobody ever had what I have the pleasure of sitting up with a band night after night that had a Herschel Evans, a Lester Young, a Harry Edison, a Buck Clayton, a Dicky Wells, a Benny Morton, a Freddie Green, a Walter Page, and a Bill Basie... "

Source: http://www-music.duke.edu/jazz_archive/artists/basie.count/01/

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Larry Kart shared this insight in an e-mail message to the editor of this web site on January 22, 2007:

Reading Michael Pettersen's informative liner notes to the very good Arbors CD, 5 for Freddie, Bucky's Tribute to Freddie Green, I came across the following passage: "When asked by a puzzled journalist if he really wanted to be heard, Freddie answered, 'Oh, yes I do, especially by the musicians on stage.' " I was that journalist, and while I have been puzzled more than a few times in my life, I wasn't on that occasion.

Freddie Green's quote comes from a piece I wrote in 1985 for the Chicago Tribune that revolved in part around the debut performance, at the Henry Street Settlement House in Manhattan, of the Thad Jones-led version of the Basie Band. Here is the relevant passage:

If there is a key figure among the men who have, as Thad Jones says, "committed themselves to the continuation of Basie's music," it is guitarist Freddie Green, who has been in charge of what might be called the band's "rhythmic wave" for forty-eight years. Between sets at the Henry Street concert, an informal round-table discussion of the Basie style takes place. The participants (Freddie Green, trombonist Dennis Wilson, pianist Tee Carson, and lead trumpeter Byron Stripling) inevitably focus on the guitarist's special role, after Carson explains that the secret of the Basie band was the way it "put roller skates on four-four time." "As I see it," says Wilson, "there's only one thing in the band that always stays the same, one person who is going one-two-three-four, regardless of what the tempo is. The drummer's not doing that, he's bashing here and there; the pianist goes 'tink' now and then; and the bassist plays 'boom-bookity-boom'. But that rhythm guitar is always laying it down. It's a felt thing more than a heard thing; and I'm not sure that Freddie really wants to be heard all the time." "Oh, yes I do," Green says, "especially by the musicians on the stage. That's the main thing, because if they hear me, then the overall sound will come off. The band has got to feel it before the audience does; and if I can keep the beat going at one level from start to finish, that's it."

It was trombonist Dennis Wilson, not me, who raised the question of whether or not Freddie Green wanted to be heard; this led to Green's comments. I'm fairly certain that Wilson wasn't "puzzled" either; rather, he was saying something about Green that he knew not to be the case, in an attempt to get Green to go on record with a few words about what his musical aims were as a rhythm guitarist. I was grateful to Wilson for his kind, subtle assistance that night and grateful as well to have the chance to be in Green's presence. By the way, the acoustics at the Henry Street Settlement House were superb; no microphones were needed or used, as I recall, and Green's comping often could be heard, as well as felt, by members of the audience.

Larry Kart writes about jazz for the Chicago Tribune, Down Beat, and many other publications. He is the author of Jazz In Search Of Itself, published by Yale University Press in 2004.

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Selected Quotes from the Article: Freddie Green: All-American Rhythm Guitarist
Author: Hal Smith
Source: Jazz Rambler Newsletter; Jan/Feb 2000; Volume 8 Number 1

Quincy Jones, who arranged for Basie, said of Green,

"That man is a sort of spirit. He doesn't talk loud and he doesn't play loud. But man! You sure know he's there. The brass and reeds can be up there shouting away, but there's Freddie, coming right through it all, steady as a rock and clear as a bell. He's something special. What he represents is the only one of its kind in existence."

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Dick Katz from CD liner notes:

From the beginning - at least from 1936 on - he (Basie) had a clear idea of what musical ingredients he considered essential, and he never lost sight of them throughout his career.

To be specific, Basie realized that rhythm was the key element. Every attentive jazz fan knows that the basic rhythm section in which he was joined by Jo Jones, Walter Page, and Freddie Green was one of the most innovative and influential in jazz history. It had been the addition of guitarist Green in 1937 that helped make everything "jell" and "float." But it was the way the section functioned with the rest of the band that for many years set it apart from all others. Every performance featured running "conversations" between the two elements, in which the peaks and climaxes in the arrangements (whether "head" or written) were preceded or followed by a spacious piano solo that always allowed the collective sound of drums, guitar, and bass to be heard and, even more important, to be felt.

Source: Liner notes by Dick Katz from "Count Basie 1949: Shoutin' Blues" a 1993 compilation CD (BMG 66158-2)

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Legendary Hollywood Studio Musician Carol Kaye:

Freddie Green was idolized as the time-keeper of the great Count Basie Orchestra. All of the Hollywood musicians in the 1950's said that you could set a clock to Freddie's great sense of time.

I met him while recording with Count Basie in the 1960s. Basie went commercial for a while and had a modest hit, "Come Together," the Beatles tune. I played bass on that Basie record. At the recording session, Freddie and I had a chance to talk while sitting next to each other.  He was a very quiet and unassuming fellow, but very friendly once you got to know him and chatted with him musician-to-musician.  He really knew the important contribution he made to the band.

I was impressed by his quiet, classy nature. He was a very good person, not into drugs, and very wise. Reticent at first, he opened up after a few musical subjects were discussed.  I knew the reputation of Freddie Green from when I was a jazz guitar player in the 1950s. So I was thrilled to finally meet him and work with him in the studio.
Freddie knew how important playing with great time meant to a big band. His three and four voice chords were dead-on, the impetus of the great drive behind the Basie band.  Jazz guitarists owe much to him for perfecting that style of big band comping...what a tower of strength and groove!

Source: Email from Carol Kaye to Michael Pettersen dated August 6, 2006

Blues guitarist B.B. King:

"The blues is like high school and jazz is like college. These [jazz] guys could do things no one could imitate. I'd hang around and watch them. Freddie Green could drive the whole Basie band with just his acoustic guitar. There may have been a microphone in front of him from time to time. But he played an acoustic instrument back then. Now that's really something. Freddie was a whole orchestra by himself."

Source: www.jazzwax.com
February 2011

Terje Larsson on the question: 'It's Day 1. What would you do... or do differently?' and the 'Freddie-Green Chords':

"When I think about it now maybe I should have spent more time listening to jazz (although I did that a lot as a kid since my father is a bebop freak) and learning more tunes instead of just "another cool lick".Since it is guitar you are playing I would like to add this: Comping is very important, learn all the chords you can find and learn how to use them. Learn about different voicings you can play, but don't think that just cause a chord is hard to finger it's good (common mistake that one). There is a set of very easily fingered chords that Freddie Green used a lot (hence often called "Freddie Green chords") and there is a book by Larry Charlton called "Swing and Big Band Rhythm Guitar". Not only are these chords easy to finger, they sound very good too.

To sum it up, learn lots of tunes and how to comp on them using "Freddie Green chords". This way you will soon have lots of people who want to jam with you which is very important too, to play with other people. That's what it's all about, really."

Source: http://jazzbooks.fathosting.com/threaddisplay.asp?postid=2712
(on Jamey Aebersold's website)

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Bassist, Jay Leonhart

Regarding Freddie Green, I can only say that he is one of the real monumental people in the history of Jazz, and music in general. His contribution to the Basie Band was more centrally important than anybody's except for Basie himself. When you listen to current versions of the Basie band, something major is always missing, and that is the sound and time feel of Freddie Green. Freddie's 4/4 simply and quietly ruled that band. Everybody played where Freddy played. Period! He suffered no fools.

Freddie seemed stubborn and impenetrable, but if you played with a good time feel, you joined his inner circle. Then after ten years in the inner circle, you actually got to speak to him. I got a simple nod from Freddie one night when we were accompanying Mel Torme with Basie's band. I was informed that people would die for that simple nod. I now understand.

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John Lewis (see Jim Hall)

Wynton Marsalis reflecting in a blog posting:

Mr. Freddie Green

Today I am working on the 'guts' of one movement of my symphony.... thinking about the late great Freddie Green who played guitar with Basie for so many years. Freddie spent 5 decades of nights playing those steady springy quarter notes that undergirded everyone else's rhythmic flights of fancy. He was the key to the infectious Basie swing. Mr. Green said that his role required a lot of humility AND aggression.

His playing was dependable and flexible like bamboo. I am thinking about that constant stream of on the beat quarter notes (or eight notes depending on tempo) that is found in classical symphonies, tango, and some rock bass parts, in latin music (sometimes on the güiro), marches, and a lot of viola parts. I'm remembering how Mr. Freddie Green told me there's a lot of motion to be found when you're being still.

I guess he was talking about all the little melodies and nuances he would find in that steady stream of rhythm. Or he could have been talking about what those whirling dervishes achieve: through motion - stillness. I mean the swing is also a circular motion.

Well, Mr. Green was so intelligent and experienced by the time I met him - no telling where he was going. I should have asked better questions back then.

Wynton Marsalis
August 3, 2009

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John McCain, a guitarist living in South Portland, Maine, USA

In 1984, I was twenty-one and met Freddie Green when the Basie band performed in Fort Worth, Texas. I located Freddie's New York City phone number and called him when I heard the Basie band would be touring the state of Texas. I explained that I was a guitarist interested in his playing; he agreed to meet prior to the band's performance. He informed me when their bus would arrive and was very cordial and accommodating during the phone call.

On the day of the concert I met the bus at the appointed time and Freddie took me backstage. He asked me what kind of guitar I played and I answered that I had a Gibson ES-175. He looked at me over his glasses and said in a slightly disapprovingly manner, "Oh, you play electric guitar."

We didn't talk about technical guitar subjects. We spoke a bit about Lester Young and various topics related to Freddie's history with the Basie band, but most of those details are gone from my memory. I recall Freddie saying that if he wasn't in the band the audience might not be able to tell much of an overall difference, but that it would make a difference to the members of the band and how they played together.

I was able to examine his Gretsch closely and most notable was his string action; the highest I've seen by anyone not playing slide guitar. I like a high action but Freddie's action was really HIGH!

Prior to the start of the concert, he went onstage early and played an A on the piano. He then tuned his Gretsch to this pitch while sitting cross-legged at the piano. The horns then took their tuning pitch from his guitar. I noticed that his younger Basie band mates were clearly deferential towards him.

During the concert I was sitting right up front and so could hear the chords coming from his guitar. The chord shapes he played were basic, like the forms shown in this web site's technique articles. He focused on keeping a little melodic line happening through the harmonic changes. I was surprised by how far over the fingerboard he strummed with his right hand. There seemed to be a slight and gentle whipping action between the forearm and wrist. The forearm would move only so far and the wrist would extend the rest of the distance across the strings.

Freddie posed for a photo with me after the performance and was as kind as can be. I was struck with his politeness, friendliness and willingness to sit and hang out with an admirer. What a thrill it was to meet the master of rhythm guitar!

I feel your summary of his style and chordal approaches are right on the money. Bravo for taking the time to celebrate and discuss Freddie Green's contributions to the art. I appreciate your efforts on behalf of swinging guitar players everywhere.

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Donald Mills of the Mills Brothers:

"At that time [circa 1936-1937] we were looking for a guitar player. A fellow named Freddie Green, who was with the Count Basie band, sent Norman Brown to have an interview with us. The only thing we asked him to do play the introduction of the theme song. He played it so well that we said you got the job. He started with us the same time our father did." [Norman Brown played rhythm guitar for the Mills Brothers from the late 1930s until his death in the late 1960s.]

Source: The Mills Brothers Story
VHS Video Tape: Kultur Video - Storyville Films
Date: 1986
Location in the video: 25'35"

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Wes Montgomery on Freddie Green:

Ralph Gleason: "Would it suit your temperament to sit there like Freddie Green and not take solos?"

Wes Montgomery: "It would be alright, but I don't know that many chords. I'd be loaded if I knew that many. I'd probably go join a (big) band and play rhythm, man, because he's (Freddie) not just playing chords, he's playing a LOT of chords."

Source: Liner notes by Ralph Gleason for the 1973 Milestone Records album "Wes and Friends".

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Les Paul:

"I don't play the acoustic guitars. I played them when I was with the Armed Forces in the Hollywood band. Sometimes I would play a Gibson L5 when I played in the orchestra. I play acoustic very rarely. And I got to the point where I didn't want to go near them. I leave Freddie Green to Freddie Green."

"It was a great pleasure playing with Count Basie just before he died. Talking about him, he'd just lift his left hand and take one finger and hit one note. It was the best damn note I ever heard. It's not how many notes you play, you just have to play the right ones! Like Freddie Green pumping great rhythm."

Source: http://www.modernguitars.com/archives/000818.html

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A Freddie Green Experience
by Michael Pettersen

In the late 1970's, I attended a Count Basie Orchestra concert. The concert took place in Evanston, Illinois, at Northwestern University's Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.

Using the PA system, Basie introduced each tune, but one was very special.

"We'd like to do a tune now that features a fellow that been with me for more than 40 years."

At this moment, being young and uninhibited, I yelled out "Freddie!"

Basie smiled and said, "The audience knows you, Pep."

"Now Freddie rarely takes a solo, but tonight that will change. We would like to feature him on this next tune."

Throughout this introduction, Freddie is sitting impassively with his typical slightly bored look. His guitar is sitting in a stand next to him.

Basie counts off a medium tempo blues in F, plays accompanied only by bass and drums. At bar 10 in the 12 bar blues, Freddie picks up his guitar and gets ready to play. Basie says, "Not yet". Freddie puts his guitar down and the audience laughs.

After another blues chorus is nearly complete, Freddie again gets his guitar ready, looks at Basie, and Basie shakes his head side to side. The audience laughs louder. There is no expression from Freddie.

At the end of the third chorus, Basie ends the tune with his trademark "Plink - plink - plink". Freddie then strums a F 6/9 chord at the 7th position, stands up, bows, and the audience goes wild.

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Singer/guitarist Madeleine Peyroux
Source: Acoustic Guitar Magazine
Date: February 2008
Page: 52

Interviewer Question: "Don't Cry Baby", from the "Careless Love" album, has a bluesy intro, but then shifts into a Freddie Green comping style.

Peyroux Answer: I will open that song myself, then when the band comes in, it does turn into the Freddie Green thing. For me, it's three strings, though he would have done even less.

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Guitarist John Pisano from his web site:

Rhythm playing is my forte. I can play solid rhythm. I try to break away from the conventional chord voicings. George Van Eps said that you do not have to play a lot of notes to be effective. That's what I do. I enjoy playing in the background. When I played with Frank Capp's Juggernaut big band, I insisted on playing unamplified; the way a rhythm guitar should be played. It can be devastatingly hard work.

I had a wonderful conversation with Freddie Green a few years before he died. He was working with Count Basie's band at Disneyland. I sat six feet away from Freddie and watched him play. I was looking at his strings...they were just so high! Of course, my first question was, "How do you play with the string action so high?" He thought about it and said, "You know, it takes a long time to get used to it!"

Freddie told me about the guitars that he had owned, and I guess from the way he played, they disintegrated and fell apart! He started out with an Epiphone Emperor, then moved on to a Stromberg, and finally ended up playing a Gretsch. I noticed the unique way he held his guitar...very flat. I realized that with the guitar positioned in that manner, the pick hits the string and pushes the string down, as opposed to picking it in the traditional way. That's the theory behind getting a good sound out of the instrument. The classical guitar is the same way. I thought a lot about it, and found that I could really get the guitar to boom playing like that.

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Bucky Pizzarelli and Billy Taylor conversation about Freddie Green's Chord Voicings
Source: National Public Radio
Program: Billy Taylor's Jazz At The Kennedy Center
Air Date: Not listed, but no later than 2002.

Thanks to jazz violinist Aaron Weinstein for submitting this quote.

Billy Taylor to Bucky Pizzarelli: "In the early days when you were playing with the bands...now you started 'In A Mellow Tone', which we played, in a rather special way. You said, 'Check out Freddie Green'. Now what were you doing when you did that?"

Bucky Pizzarelli: "Well, I was playing rhythm the way Freddie did...trying to play like Freddie Green and nobody could, you know. A guy that played with you, Barry Galbraith, could. Remember Barry?"

Billy Taylor: "Oh, very well."

Bucky Pizzarelli: "Instead of playing a full chord like when you learn the guitar. [Bucky plays a six note Bb7 chord at the 6th fret.] You've got three Bb's in there. See, that's no good. You have to cut it down to maybe a few notes. Actually I only play one or two notes. You're holding the other ones down [i.e., muting the other strings]."

Billy Taylor: "You get the essence of the chord."

Bucky Pizzarelli: "Yeah, right."

Billy Taylor: "And that way you really get the rhythm going."

Bucky Pizzarelli: "Oh definitely. You don't have many notes to hit. The minute you start hitting six strings at one time, the band stops!"
(Both laugh.)

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Selected Quotes from the Article: Freddie Green: All-American Rhythm Guitarist
Author: Hal Smith
Source: Jazz Rambler Newsletter; Jan/Feb 2000; Volume 8 Number 1

Tenor saxophonist Paul Quinichette, who worked with Basie in the 1950's, said,

"I think Basie would be lost without Freddie. If you put the tempo too fast, Freddie kept it down there, always controlled. He's got it right there, in his wrist. And Basie listens to Freddie Green, one reason why he's still successful to this day. He might not listen to me, but he's going to listen to Freddie, because he knows that's where it is. When Walter Page died, the only one he had left was Freddie, the only one he could rely on to keep tempo."

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Source: http://rhettscharleston.blog-city.com/read/117166.htm
by Walter Rhett
Edited by Michael Pettersen

Interviews of jazz drummer and bebop originator, Kenny Clarke, cite the Charleston born guitarist, Freddie Green, as having helped Clarke develop his unique drumming style of off-beats, shuffles, rim taps, and power rolls. Clarke later used this style in Harlem as part of a quintet that featured saxophonist and bebop founder, Charlie Parker.† Freddie Green, acknowledged by Count Basie and others as having the best sense of time of any musician in any era, was considered the key member of the "All-American Rhythmn Section". This name was given to Count Basie's 1937 rhythm section that featured Basie on piano, Green on guitar, Walter Page on bass, and Jo Jones on drums.† The Count Basie Orchestra helped create the nationwide craze in America for Swing music. Freddie Green's impeccable time and swing compelled the listener to move. Movie footage capture the infectiousness of Swing: the amazing foot steps, patterns, physical leaps and lifts, splits, partnering, extensions, and shimmys.† Freddie Green, as the rhythm guitarist in America's greatest Swing band, was at the very center of this music.† For Freddie's time-keeping abilities to have also fostered and nurtured the complex rhythms of bebop prompted one musician to say, "It was as if God said 'Let there be rhythm', and out came Freddie Green."

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A Freddie Green Story
Submitted by Dave Rubin, a visitor of www.freddiegreen.org

When I was in high school in the early 1970's, the band director some how convinced the Basie big band to play at our school on a Monday night. I guess Mondays were slow nights and they could squeeze in an extra gig. Being on the stage crew for the school, I got to be on stage for an unbelievable experience. During intermission, I walked on the stage to take a close look at Freddie's guitar. While most of the Basie band was in a back room listening to a NY Knicks game, one of the trombone players asked if I was a guitar player. I said "Yes" and he told me to play Freddie's guitar. I was 16 and used to the standard solid body guitar action. The action on Freddie's guitar was so high you could practically use it to shoot arrows with, I could barely get the strings to touch the fret board, but I was able to plunk a couple of things out. After a few minutes Freddie came back, looked at me with a little laugh and said "Keep practicing". Well I have and I know all the Freddie voicings and have been using his rhythm technique for years. He truly is one of the unsung heroes of the guitar.

November 15, 2001

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Author: Artie Shaw
Book: The Trouble with Cinderella
Page: 332
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Young - New York
Copyright: 1952

Clarinetist Artie Shaw writes about developing a unique musical style, like that of Freddie Green:

"Anybody can work up a set of tricks. The toughest thing is always the least tricky, the least gimmicky, the least fancy, and don't let anybody kid you about that. And that goes for anything - not only music."


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Singer Marlena Shaw talks to pianist Billy Taylor about Freddie Green:

Billy Taylor: Freddie Green was not only a very special guitarist in jazz, I mean the things he did with the Basie band, though he was not a soloist, he just held that rhythm section so tightly together. Tell me how you met him, and a little about Freddie Green.

Marlena Shaw: Actually I sat across from him (on the Basie band bus). When I first got on the bus, of course, every seat was an experiment, you know. Can I sit with Marshall Royal? Well not long. (Laughs). Charlie Fowlkes? Well, maybe not in the morning. (Laughs) Only in the afternoon, y'all might have a chance. So I finally worked my way to the back of the bus and I sat opposite of Freddie Green. Boy, what a wonderful guy he was. He really tried to help me in so many ways. Musically, he would say things like "Don't worry about it. Everything is fine. You're doing OK. And listen, you don't need to wear all them eyelashes." (Laughs) I thought he was going to tell me something musically, you know. And he's the one that introduced me to a song that he had written called "Corner Pocket".

Source: "Billy Taylor's Jazz At The Kennedy Center" on National Public Radio
Air Date: 1999

Source: Conversation with alto sax player, Eric Schneider. Schneider is based in Chicago and played with the Basie band in 1982 and 1983. Date: May 2, 2003
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Event: Dance/concert with the Kansas City Connection; a band with four Basie alumni. I played rhythm guitar for the gig. - Michael Pettersen

"Freddie was quiet unless the subject was baseball. Once while the band was waiting for the bus to arrive, I sat down next to him. Somehow the subject of baseball came up and Freddie started to talk, more than I had ever heard him talk before. He really knew baseball and I heard that in his younger days, he was quite a good player for the band's softball team."

"Freddie had an ominous stare, sort of like the infamous Benny Goodman 'ray', that he used when he wasn't happy with how the band was playing. Mostly this stare was reserved for the drummer if he wasn't keeping good time or was showing off. Once on a gig, Freddie started staring at me and I couldn't figure out why. At the break, I asked him what I was doing wrong and he told me that stare wasn't for me, it was for the drummer, but that he couldn't turn around far enough in his chair to make eye contact with the drummer. So he stared at me instead!"

Source: Email from sax player, Eric Schneider. Schneider is based in Chicago and played with the Basie band in 1982 and 1983.
Date: September 8, 2015
Location: Chicago, Illinois

"I remember playing with Basie at an outdoor venue similar to Ravinia (Highland Park, Illinois.) The sound engineer was wondering where he should put Freddie's microphone. Freddie said he didn't want one. The engineer persisted and Freddie gave him a look that could have cut through steel. Needless to say, Freddie was not miked."

Source: Email from sax player, Eric Schneider.
Date: January 19, 2016
Location: Chicago, Illinois

"When the Basie band backed up Sammy Davis, Jr., Sammy's guitar player had an array of effect devices and pedals. I pointed out these devices to Freddie and suggested he should use some of them. He just growled, but had a twinkle in his eye."

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Drummer Ed Shaughnessy
Source: Email to Michael Pettersen
Date: December 14, 2010

I did four albums with Count Basie in 1966 and 1967. After the first recording date, Freddie said on next one, "I brought my best guitar today because it felt so damn good yesterday!" I felt 10 feet tall!

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Linear Notes Author: Chris Sheridan
Recording: The Complete Roulette Live Recordings of Count Basie and His Orchestra
Recording Dates: 1959 - 1962
Label: Mosaic

Jo Jones remembered that he had to be restrained quite often (regarding tempos), usually by Freddie Green, the veteran who had been with Basie almost unbroken since 1937. Jones said "Freddie was really the timekeeper." Indeed he probably set the tempo as often as Basie himself. Certainly he kept it and bassists and drummers kept their jobs at his say-so.

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Samuel "Lonnie" Simmons:

Saxophonist Lonnie Smith was born in Charleston, South Carolina, as was Freddie Green.

"I stayed with my sister and knocked around town and met a lot of great musicians. Finally, one New Year's Eve, a musician friend of my sister, who had been working in the Yeah Man Club, wanted to add a musician to their group. My sister told him that her musician brother was in town so I luckily, got the job. I asked the leader could they also use a guitar and was happy to be able to get Freddie Green, guitar, on the job as well. Freddie Green had left Charleston before me and had been working on the WPA.

Freddie and I were added to the regular group and we made ten dollars a week. We stayed there at the Yeah Man Club for quite a while. The pianist in the group was a very good accompanist and because The Yeah Man Club was near the Cotton Club, it brought many well-known entertainers and musicians in to our club, too. Amanda Randolph, (in later years she played the maid on the Danny Thomas TV show) heard us and asked for us to come over to the club where she was working to work with her. We went and earned 25 dollars a week. We stayed there for a while until we got a job downtown on 52nd St in a place called Tillie's Chicken Shack. Later, Amanda asked me to bring a band into a club where she and Billy Daniels were about to start working. I put together a group with Charlie Shavers, trumpet, with Kenny Clark, drums, Patkins, piano, and Freddie Green. We played for Billy Daniels while he was singing to the audience from table to table.

John Hammond, a millionaire who had been responsible for helping a number of jazz musicians such as Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, etc., heard us and liked the group. We, at the time, were not in the musician's union and he told us he would pay and get the band in the union. He spoke up for us and because he was who he was, the union let us join. But they would not let us join as a group to work, only as individuals. This was okay with the group because John had other music groups and he could put each individual in other groups. Charlie Shavers went with Lucky Milliner, I went with Hot Lips Page at Small's Paradise, and Freddie Green went with Count Basie."

Source: Bronzeville conversation with Samuel "Lonnie" Simmons and Charlie Cole by Charles Walton.


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Selected Quotes from the Article: Freddie Green: All-American Rhythm Guitarist
Author: Hal Smith
Source: Jazz Rambler Newsletter; Jan/Feb 2000; Volume 8 Number 1

In 1939, Freddie acted as a catalyst on a classic Lionel Hampton recording. The line up was Hampton on vibes, an awesome horn front line of Coleman Hawkins on tenor sax, Edmond Hall on clarinet, and Benny Carter on alto sax, Joe Sullivan on piano, Artie Bernstein on bass, and Zutty Singleton on drums. Freddie Green's presence seemed to unify the disparate rhythmic elements, resulting in a swinging, Kansas City-like pulse.

Green stayed with Basie through the years of World War II, providing a much needed stability as key musicians came and went due to the military draft. In 1950, Basie disbanded the large orchestra and prepared to tour with a small combo, sans guitar. Trumpeter Clark Terry, a member of this group, recalled that as the band prepared to board a plane for a job in Chicago, Freddie Green suddenly appeared. Basie asked,

"Are you on this gig?"

Green replied,

"You think I'm gonna give you the best years of my life and then get jilted?"

According to Terry,

"Count couldn't do anything but laugh. Freddie had hired himself."

In 1952, Basie reorganized his big band and Freddie Green was back in his accustomed spot - in the crook of the piano. His unamplified but resonant 4/4 chording was still one of the most enjoyable sounds within the Basie ensemble.

Freddie's impeccable voicings, perfect time, and beautiful acoustic sound constitute a rich legacy. Knowledgeable musicians and listeners will continue to appreciate Freddie Green's contributions to jazz as long as the music lasts.

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John Stowell:

"At one point in one of Bill's (Evans) solos, Jim turns his guitar down to where it's essentially acoustic and plays straight time, indicating that he was influenced by Freddie Green."

Source: 'Unforgettable Jazz Guitar' by Jim Ferguson in: 'The Guitar in Jazz: an anthology' / edited by James Sallis, 1996.

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Billy Taylor (see Bucky Pizzarelli)

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Clark Terry remembers when Freddie Green re-hired himself to play with Basie:

In 1950, after Count Basie had broken up his big band, he put together a small group with Clark Terry, Buddy DeFranco, Bob Graf, Jimmy Lewis, and Gus Johnson. They worked a month at the Brass Rail in Chicago, where everyone was surprised that Freddie Green was not with the group. Green had been an important member of Basie's famous "All-American Rhythm Section".

When the sextet met in New York for their next gig, there was Green with his guitar. Clark Terry recalls the dialogue between Basie and Green, whose nickname was "Pepper".

Basie: "Say, Pep, you're not on this gig, are you?"

Green: "You're workin', aren't you? After I gave you the best years of my life, you think you're going to leave me now?"

The sextet became a septet. Freddie remained as the anchor of the rhythm section when Basie reorganized his big band about a year later, and he stayed there for another thirty-five years.

Source: Jazz Anecdotes; by Bill Crow; copyright 1990; Oxford University Press; ISBN 0-190505588-8

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Clark Terry remembers the importance of Freddie Green's rhythm guitar:

"Freddie Green was the foundation (of the Basie septet). He was the greatest rhythm guitarist that ever lived. Freddie used to say, ‘You have to turn the amp down so you can feel it more than you can hear it.’ We used to call him Ching Chang. The second chord was always a little more dominant. Just a little. That was the secret."

Source: You Can't Steal a Gift: Dizzy, Clark, Milt, and Nat; by Gene Lees; copyright 2001; Yale University Press; ISBN 0-300-08965-1; page 131

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Clark Terry recalls working with the Count Basie Small Group in the 1950s:

We were working at the Capitol Lounge in Chicago. I was staying at the Southway Hotel, at 60th and South Parkway. Duke Ellington calls me on the phone and said "I'd like to talk to you. We'd like to have you come aboard."

So I said, "Yeah, I'd like to talk to you, too."

Duke said, "I'll come by your hotel."

I said, "Fine. I'll meet you at the elevator."

Duke called from the hotel lobby. Just as the elevator comes up, and he gets off, and I'm meeting him, the door across from the elevator opens and Freddie Green comes out. Freddie looks and says, "Oooooh, shit," and goes back in his room and slams the door.

Duke and I talked and got our business straight. That night on the gig, I walked in, and Freddie Green was tuning up. Instead of saying, "Hello", he turned his eyes up and said, "You're a fool if you don't."

Source: You Can't Steal A Gift - Dizzy, Clark, Milt, and Nat; by Gene Lees; copyright 2001; Yale University Press; ISBN 0-300-08965-1; page 132

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Author: Barry Ulanov
Periodical: Metronome
Date: October 1941
Article: Count Basie At Cafe Society Uptown, New York City, September 16, 1941

"The greatness of Basie jazz is easy to spot. There are soloists of extraordinary distinction, almost as many as there are men in the band: Buck Clayton and Harry Edison, Dickie Wells and Eli Robinson, Buddy Tate and Don Byas, the Count, and Freddie Green is beginning to branch out as an electric guitarist."

Editor's Note: Freddie's brief experimentation with amplified guitar was likely encouraged by the phenomenal popularity of guitarist Charlie Christian, a featured soloist with the Benny Goodman band until his untimely death in March 1942.
- Michael Pettersen

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Author: Barry Ulanov
Periodical: Metronome
Date: June 1953
Article: Count Basie At The Bandbox
Page: 18

"And then there is Freddie Green, the guitarist, who once more demonstrates beyond argument the necessity of his instrument in the rhythm section, and shows how powerful a force it can be for steadiness, for fullness of sound, and shows it with a rhythmic genius only one other guitarist - Billy Bauer - has ever shown in a rhythm section."

Joop Visser from his compilation CD "Hittin' All Six - A History of Jazz Guitar", liner notes (page 19/20):

"During the first thirteen years, Green's presense was a vital component of the band as one quarter of the most famous rhythm section in the history of Jazz; Green, Basie, bassist Walter Page and drummer Jo Jones. After that, when less reliable timekeepers joined Basie, Green's metronomic guitar was his leader's rock. The omnipresent Green shared in all the Basie successes from 1937 until the leader's death in 1984.

Freddie's omnipotence among rhythm players is due to his unique, very personal sound, together with his rock-steady beat. Green strikes the strings more powerfully than other rhythm players, primarily using the lower four strings for his chord inversions. Freddie Green was the most modest of guitarists where solo playing is concerned: He is seemingly reluctant to take more than eight bars, maybe once a decade. 'Topsy', one of Eddie Durham's swinging contributions to the Basie library and an early Green recording with the Basie band gives a good impression of Green's craft. 'Them There Eyes' by the Kansas City Six, a small band of Basie sidemen from September 1938 features both Green on acoustic and Eddie Durham on electric guitar. This historic recording also treats us to a rare Freddie Green vocal..."

Source: "Hittin' All Six - A History of the Jazz Guitar" (Properbox 9 P1133-P1136). This set is accompanied by an informative 51 page booklet with photos, biographical information, and a detailed discography of every disc. Freddie Green is part of disc 2 on tracks 5 and 6. The tunes are "Topsy" from 1937 with The Count Basie Orchestra (6251-A - Decca 1170, N.Y., Aug. 9, 1937) and "Them There Eyes" from 1938 with the Kansas City Six (23423-1 Commodore 512, N.Y., Sept. 8, 1938). The last is the rare recording having Freddie Green as a singer.

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Aaron Weinstein - jazz violinist - www.aaronweinstein.net
Source: Email to Michael Pettersen
Date: February 7, 2007

In February 2007, I played a gig with the great drummer, Jake Hanna. Jake and Freddie Green were in the studio together for a record or two, so I asked about Freddie. By the way he spoke, it was obvious that Jake was very fond of Freddie. Jake said that Freddie was a quiet guy, that he played one note and two note chords, and that Freddie once came to his house for dinner. I told Jake about the Freddie Green website and asked if he was willing to be interviewed about Mr. Rhythm. He replied, "Well, I wouldn't object to it, but there isn't really much more to say."

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Selected Quotes from the Article: Freddie Green: All-American Rhythm Guitarist
Author: Hal Smith
Source: Jazz Rambler Newsletter; Jan/Feb 2000; Volume 8 Number 1

Trombonist Dickie Wells described the Basie rhythm section as

"nothing more than a Cadillac with the force of a Mack truck."

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Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz_guitar

Wikipedia Definition of Jazz Guitar:
The guitar has a long and honorable history in jazz. Historically, the guitar played the same role in jazz as in country music, blues and other forms of folk music, as an instrument easy to acquire financially and easy (enough) to play for an individual performer.

As an instrument in an ensemble, however, the guitar had first to supplant the banjo as the standard "string tenor" rhythm instrument. Even as late as the early 30s such sophisticated orchestras as Duke Ellington's still used a banjo. In the late 30s, however, there were important developments, or, more accurately, important individuals:

Freddie Green -- In the Count Basie Orchestra out of Kansas City, Missouri, Green was a peerless rhythm guitarist, whose reliable pulse propelled the hardest swinging band in jazz. Green's ascendency pretty much ended the banjo era. Green rarely soloed, even in the modern era, but he remains the apotheosis of the rhythm guitar and the master of chorded accompaniment.

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Aaron A. Woodward, III about the loss of Freddie Green and subsequent replacement by Jerry Eastman:

When Freddie Green ('Mr. Rhythm') passed away we experienced a more critical musical need than when we lost Chief [Basie]. Mr. Rhythm was the time keeper for the Orchestra, he was also the link to the original million dollar rhythm section, no one will ever replace Freddie Green, or for that matter Count Basie either, Freddie's rhythm guitar without amplification is no longer an instrument that young musicians aspire to learning, it is a great credit to Jerry Eastman that he was the first guitarist to occupy Freddie Green's chair, and he is the first guitarist to record with the Basie Orchestra without Mr. Rhythm. We miss you Freddie.

Source: Liner notes by Aaron A. Woodward, III, from the CD - The Legend, The Legacy - The Count Basie Orchestra directed by Frank Foster, rec. May 16 and 17 1989 in N.Y., Denon CY 73790

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Drummer Sam Woodyard:

"I had the chance to play with Basie's band one night when we were laying off. This scared me, too, as long as I'd been with Duke's band. You might think it would be the other way around - the kind of arrangements and the way we play in this band - but I didn't want to be a drag and it had been so long since I had played with a guitarist. When I got on the bandstand, I soon felt the difference between a rhythm section of four and Duke's section of three - often two when Duke is conducting. I didn't know the arrangements, but Freddie Green was sitting right in front of the bass drum and Thad Jones was on my left, and between the two of them they cued me in, just like Clark Terry used to do.

"When you've got someone like Freddie Green in the section, there's no sweat, because he listens and he's never stiff. Out front, you may not always hear him, but you feel him. The musicians certainly do. With a guitar player like him, I could play "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue" with brushed instead of sticks and get the same fire going behind Paul Gonslaves. That's the kind of cat Freddie is, and that's the kind of thing that hits people without their knowing what it is."

Book: The World of Duke Ellington
Author: Stanley Dance
Page: 195
Copyright 2000
Da Capo Press
ISBN 0306810158

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Two stories posted on the Web by Jim Young at the site http://www.allaboutjazz.com/threads/anecdote.htm

Freddie Greene, or Father Time, took no solos and in person was notable for saying a lot in a few words. Here are two stories. The first is from Joe Williams' autobiography, about when Count Basie's band was at its peak, playing Vegas, and for Joe the night's fun was just beginning when the band played its last set. Joe told how he would play golf regularly with Freddie early in the morning, and, when Joe showed up the worse for wear after a long night on the town, Freddie checked him out and said, "Take some and leave some."

The second story is a true one told by a friend of mine who managed to get a rise out of the imperturbable Freddie. My friend, a lifelong Basie freak, once caught the Basie band on its way up the East Coast, managing a front row table the first night at a Washington, DC gig, and then the next night in Baltimore. On the third night, with him again up front for the band's gig in Wilmington, Freddie finally leans toward him and says, "Man, where do you live?"

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Lester Young in 1956 in Downbeat on Basie's rhythm section and his dreams of a perfect band setting:

"The Basie rhythm section was good because they played together and everybody in it was playing rhythm. They played for you to play when you were taking a solo. They weren't playing solos behind you."


"If I could put together exactly the kind of band I wanted, it wouldn't be a great big band. I'd have a guitar that just played rhythm -- like Freddie Greene. I'd have three more rhythm, a trumpet, trombone, baritone, and myself. Frank Sinatra would be the singer. But that's kind of way out. That'll never happen. As for arrangements, there are a lot of people I'd like, but I'd have to think about it."

Source: Pres - One Of Jazzdom's Greats Reminisces, Evaluates And Chats, Downbeat 03/07/1956, An Exclusive Online Extra: http://www.downbeat.com/default.asp?sect=stories&subsect=story_detail&sid=422

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Excerpts from the article: Count Basie at 100 and 20 - Footpatting To Pianissimo
Author: Mike Zwerin - International Herald Tribune
Date: June 22, 2004

The first black big bands were a collection of musicians inventing riffs, putting them together and remembering them. Swing, the creation of a groove, the African contribution, came from these bands. Basie called it "footpatting." Basie's legacy deserves more attention. His band stood above the other so-called "riff bands" of the 1930s thanks to his minimal piano and to his principal soloist Lester Young. "Taxi War Dance," for example, starts with Young's floating, lyrical, still fresh improvisation, and then there are riffs and more solos and more riffs and Young takes it out. There's no "tune." It was as much Young's band as Basie's.

In the 1950s, Basie formed a subtle and soulful wind machine, the essence of finesse, that put to rest the myth that it was not possible to play in tune and swing at the same time; as well as the myth that black bands could not play pianissimo. And for that matter, the myth that pianissimo was not commercial.

Basie's guitarist Freddie Green "led" the Basie band from the middle. Although he never soloed, he was the power behind the throne of a bandleader. Freddie was the foundation, the listener felt his rhythm guitar but did not really hear it. You were not supposed to hear it. It could sound as though there were two cellos walking with the bass. A delicate footpat. Once, after Green told a new drummer to play something one way and Basie told him another, the drummer asked which of them was actually the leader. Without hesitation, Basie pointed to Green.

In a club, Basie would start a set with that minimal medium-tempo strum he was famous for while the audience went on talking and clanking their glasses, barely aware that the music had begun. Until a sudden fortissimo tutti chord in their faces blew their ears back. Then the audience would laugh and, after an instant drop back to pianissimo, applaud. A pianissimo being applauded is a miracle that deserves to be recalled.

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