Basie All Stars: Live At Fabrik Vol.1 Hamburg 1981

No Basie or Freddie Green but Nat Pierce, Harry Edison, Joe Newman, Buddy Tate and others do a fine and roistering job of filling the bill

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Ardent Basie-ites will welcome this previously unreleased “live” recording made in Hamburg in 1981. The nine-piece group (directed by Marshall Royal) featured veterans from the Old and New Testament orchestras – minus Basie himself, Freddie Green and Sonny Payne.

Nat Pierce performs his distinctive imitations of the Count’s frugal piano style, while drummer Gus Johnson and John Heard fill Green and Payne’s absences. Throughout, Tate delivers his inimitable tenor sounds, as do trumpeters Sweets Edison and Joe Newman. Trombonist Benny Powell and tenor man Billy Mitchell are completely at ease with their distinguished colleagues.

The set opens with Bluesbird Blues, with commanding solos from Tate, Edison, Newman, Powell and Mitchell. The inventive Powell reappears as soloist on a nuanced Please Send Me Someone To Love. Frank Foster’s famous composition Shiny Stockings receives a joyous workout (an abridged copy of the original) from all concerned, with Tate again in imperious form. In a more rhapsodic and “narrative” mood he also features on a beautifully articulated Everything Happens To Me, with sympathetic support from Pierce.

Marshall Royal’s feature, an impassioned and reflective This Is All I Ask, displays his underrated talents as altoist. I’m Confessin’ That I Love You has a tightly muted Edison extracting every ounce of meaning from an old war horse – much to the delight of the audience – and urged by the compère to “take another bow”.

Little Pony, the closing and longest track (at 12.20), has a blistering Tate solo that threatens to ignite a fire, with supporting riffs from the band, and a honking Billy Mitchell leading the ride out and a rabble-rousing encore.

Excellent packaging and vibrant sound are standard for Fabrik recordings; this one is slightly marred by superficial and inaccurate sleeve notes. A projected Volume 2 will feature vocals by Joe Williams.

Discography
Bluesbird Blues; Announcement I; Please Send Me Someone To Love; Announcement II; Shiny Stockings; Announcement III; Everything Happens To Me; This Is All I Ask; Announcement IV; I’m Confessin’ That I Love You; Announcement V; Little Pony (60.10)
Harry “Sweets” Edison, Joe Newman (t); Benny Powell tb); Marshall Royal (as); Buddy Tate, Billy Mitchell (ts); Nat Pierce (p); John Heard (b); Gus Johnson (d). Fabrik, Hamburg, 8 May 1981.
Fabrik 077125