Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Nickname #14 -- May 22, 2012

Bill "Count" Basie was one of the greatest piano players and bandleaders in 20th Century American music.  He began playing the piano in his native New Jersey.  He moved to Harlem and met many important musicians including Fats Waller and Willy the Lion Smith.  He became the pianist for Walter Page's Blue Devils, a territory band that worked out of Kansas City.  He moved on to Benny Moten's band, which dominated Kansas City.  After Moten died, Basie formed a new band, which was one of the best swing bands.  He featured Lester Young, Ben Webster, Freddie Greene, Buck Clayton, Jo Jones and many more. 

"Count" was a sign of his important place in the aristocracy of music. 

He even appeared in Blazing Saddles

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