Count Basie Me and You

My favorite genre of music is big band jazz/swing - it's got it all, the foot-tappiness, explosive dynamics, massed brass, double bass, piano, woodwinds. When it's fronted by an exponent like Count Basie, it is difficult for me not to stand up and groove.

Count Basie passed away in 1984, and one of his most popular albums among audiophiles (and rightly so) is 88 Basie Street - recorded the year before he died. This won the Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Big Band. Recorded at Ocean Way studios and engineered by the masterful Allen Sides, the sound quality is great as is the musical performance. There is a very contemporary feel to the album as Cleaveland Eaton plays electric bass on this album.

However, whenever I think that of Count Basie's final 3 albums, the best of the lot (the one I prefer) is Me and You. Recorded just 3 months earlier at Group IV Studios and mastered by Dennis Sands, Me and You is more explosively dynamic, has better bass, and a more swinging groove. On Me and You, Eaton plays upright double-bass and this shows better as more warmth and tonality of bass. It is over-shadowed by the award winning 88 Basie Street, but IMHO, it is the better album both for music and sound.

For both 88 Basie Street and Me and You, the CDs remastered by Joe Tarantino in 1987 are good, but the original Pablo vinyl are SPECTACULAR! You need a really good turntable, tonearm and cartridge to do justice to Side 1 Track 2 on Me and You - Moten Swing.

It starts very simply - and really shows what Count Basie is capable of as a band leader/pianist. His hands fly over the keyboard, but only strikes a note when it is the perfect note at the perfect time. After a couple of bars of the intro, BAM!! The entire band comes in with saxophones, trumpets, trumbones as a triple crescendo.

Great as a demo piece when some asks you - are your speakers dynamic?

Mono & Stereo friend Gary Koh of Genesis Advanced Technologies, Inc.