Song Analysis: Lester Leaps In By Count Basie

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Count Basie was a swing big band leader who began playing piano in the 1920s. He was born in New Jersey, and took stylistic influences from New York musicians such as Fats Waller (Yanow 155). He rose to prominence as a part of the Bennie Moten Orchestra, and then led his own orchestra after Moten’s death in 1935 (Yanow 155). As a bandleader, Count Basie was able to develop his own innovative style that significantly influenced the way jazz developed past the 1940s. His band was one of the top swing big bands of its era, and many of his sidemen went on to become successful musicians on their own. The most important aspects of Basie’s style that set him apart from other bandleaders at the time included his use of riff based arrangements, his …show more content…
Although the band that played on this recording was Count Basie’s Kansas City Seven, many of its members would also be a part of the Count Basie Orchestra. The song begins with Basie playing a few measures of piano as a strong walking bass accompanies him. Jo Jones’s drumming is barely audible because he steps out of the way for the band to play over him. Soon the main riff of the song comes in, and Count Basie interjects perfectly timed notes in between repetitions of the riff. These notes are examples of Basie’s use of musical space to create groove. He plays in a restrained manner, only playing one or two notes at a time and letting silence fill the rest of his musical phrases. After about thirty seconds, Lester Young begins soloing on saxophone as the drums and bass keep rhythm behind him. He starts by rephrasing the main riff of the song and modifying it. He plays long phrases that smoothly float over the top of the song. Soon Count Basie joins in and alternates soloing with Lester Young. Basie’s soloing is relaxed, tight, and precise. The song ends with a final repetition of the riff and a burst of notes from the trumpet and trombone. This piece embodies the classic Basie style, with a tight groove, a repeating riff, and a minimalist

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