Basie Back to Back

Notable Cast

Other Great Videos from Past Entertainment
Bob Fosse and Mary Niles

Bob Fosse Dances!

You know him as the director/choreographer of Cabaret, All That Jazz and Sweet Charity. In 1951, Jerry Lewis saw the act of a young dancer, Bob Fosse, and his partner, Mary Ann Niles, at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. Lewis invited the young dancers to be on the Colgate Comedy Hour and choreograph the dance numbers for that show. This is Bob Fosse’s dance appearance on the Colgate Comedy Hour, February 4, 1951.

Sammy Davis Sr., Sammy Davis, Jr. and Will Mastin

Sammy Davis, Sr. Taps!

To understand his importance, and how Sammy Davis, Jr. became a star, you must look at the unique life, and place in history, of his father, Sammy Davis, Senior,

Roy Nepolitano on Sitar

Don Ellis Leads His Big Band

Don Ellis at Ellis Island (nightclub) on the Sunset Strip, Hollywood, California in 1967. The Don Ellis Band plays “In a Turkish Bath.” Ray Neapolitan is on sitar.

Count Basie on the Harlem Variety Review in 1955

In the classic video clip from 1955 shown above, American musical legend, Count Basie, performs in his classic Kansas City Swing style with a small band of young, talented musicians. This clip demonstrates many of the reasons Basie became a musical icon and an enduring American cultural personality.

It has been said of Basie that, although he played piano, his instrument was his band. Basie’s use his musicians to produce his sound, a sound to which he makes small, often sparse contributions. His piano notes compliment and highlight his band members as he gives them a space of their own to explore. He knows that to lead artists, you must give them room to make their own contribution. Unlike many big band contemporaries, Basie preferred giving players ample room to solo within his arrangements.

This classic TV clip from the Apollo Theater also shows the respect that Basie has for youth. Basie, himself, had overshadowed a well-known musician/bandleader in his youth. In 1929 Basie joined the Bennie Moten Band as a second piano behind Moten and an arranger for the band. Moten quickly recognized Basie’s style and connection with the band and audiences and allowed him to grow, a lesson Basie never forgot. In 1955, Basie’s place in musical history has been well established, he knows his greatest strength is the artists around him.

Basie, himself, is a picture of suave sophistication and composure. When he plays, he uses his characteristic light swing, heavy on rhythm. He frames the musicians behind him, introducing the song and its structure, but then quickly stepping back and allowing his musicians to take over. Clearly in control, he provides a forum for each artist to take over, then slides his next pieces onstage to create a complex collage of musicians all focused on the Basie style. Although Basie has helped define an American piano playing sound, the musicians are clearly his instrument, not the piano, and he seems to take great delight in that.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Other Great Videos from Past Entertainment
TV Sitcom Word Search

Sitcom Search

Classic TV sitcoms can be seen endlessly on reruns. Hunt down the titles of famous TV sitcoms in this free Word Search puzzle from Past Entertainment.


Star Match

Classic movie actors and the roles they play, we all think we know them. Test you classic movie knowledge by matching the actor with the character they made famous in this free Word Match from Past Entertainment.

Various Superheroes on a comic cover

Comic Book Greats

The comic book heroes born in the Golden Age of Comics endure today. Can you locate their names in this free Word Search Puzzle from Past Entertainment?