The Count Basie Orchestra Singing, Swinging, Playing

Track List
#Track Name
1Too Close For Comfort
2Giant Blues Flag Waiver
3Like Young
4Jessica's Day
5Blame it On My Youth
6Close Your Eyes
7Naomi's Blues
9I Have Waited So Long
10Dark Morning
11Blues On Mack Avenue

Aug 8, 2009 (Mack Avenue)

This latest chapter in the Basie band legacy leads with a scintillating rendition of “Too Close for Comfort.” On that track, guest vocalist Nnenna Freelon swivels the singsong verses five different ways while the orchestra hews to its swinging template. Freelon (who has gigged with the CBO off and on for years and cites it as a formative influence) also shellacs the chestnut “Yesterdays,” which is sautéed by Butch Miles’ shuffle beat, then roasted and cleaved by Dennis Wilson’s punchy arrangement.

Far from perfect, Swinging, Singing, Playing is besotted with guest stars (the inclusion of Jamie Cullum is a triumph of commerce over art) and bereft of terrific sax solos—mostly because only a couple are permitted the entire disc. And featuring the eminent but 87-year-old vocalese master Jon Hendricks on the concluding “Blues on Mack Avenue” makes for great nostalgia but disappointing music.

Yet none of these drawbacks are absolute. CBO members are able to prove their mettle sans guests on the simmering toe-tapper “Naiomi’s Blues.” Elsewhere, many of the guests prove to be shrewd additions, including 91-year old pianist Hank Jones, whose legato lines and sage inferences echo Basie’s own virtues on the ivories, and 87-year-old flutist Frank Wess, who captures the whimsical energy in Quincy Jones’ arrangement of “Jessica’s Day.” So hunt and peck these tracks—there are rewards aplenty

Geri Allen - Piano, Guest Appearance
Curtis Fuller - Trombone, Guest Appearance
Hank Jones - Piano
Rufus Reid - Bass, Bass Guitar, Guest Appearance
Janis Siegel - Vocals, Guest Appearance
Nnenna Freelon - Vocals, Guest Appearance
Clarence Banks - Trombone, Guest Appearance, Group Member
Scotty Barnhart - Trumpet, Soloist, Group Member
Barry Cooper - Bass Trombone, Group Member
Cleave E. Guyton Jr. - Alto Saxophone, Group Member
Jon Hendricks - Vocals, Guest Appearance
Doug Lawrence - Tenor Saxophone, Soloist
James Leary - Bass, Soloist
Butch Miles - Drums, Guest Appearance
Frank Wess - Flute, Guest Appearance
James Zollar - Trumpet, Soloist, Group Member
Mike "Love" Williams - Trumpet, Group Member
Will Matthews - Guitar, Group Member
Kriss T. Johnson Jr. - Trumpet, Group Member
Jamie Cullum - Piano, Vocals, Guest Appearance
Tony Suggs - Piano, Guest Appearance
Marion Felder - Drums
Mark McLean - Drums
Dennis Quartet Wilson - Conductor