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  • Writer's pictureJAM

Blues That Swing


“Basie Swings the Blues” (2023) unites modern living legend and contemporary blues singers with the long-standing Basie Band in a tribute to the blues. You’ll hear Keb’ Mo’ and Shemeka Copeland belting the blues on top a river of Basie Band “tight horn voicings,” as jazz scholar Wayne Winbourne rightly puts it. Beyond the heart-pumping, foot-tapping groove, the words are the thing for many blues listeners, and this album delivers, including Copeland’s brickhouse performance of Koko Taylor’s I’m a Woman, a nod to the Bo Didley tune. In the Taylor version, we even get the line “I’m a woman. Make love to a crocodile.”

For those into the groove as much as the lyrics, luminary guitarist Charlton Johnson stokes the “burner” tune The Patton Basie Shuffle. A Count Basie Orchestra (CBO) all-star, Johnson is right at home blazing a three-chorus solo with more than just a touch of distortion to fuel the fire and burn blue-white bright.

The album also features all-star elderstatesmen, like Carmen Bradford, who Count Basie hired while Bradford was still in college. Bradford sings with grace and verve on the standard Just for a Thrill. She still has it: power and control—and soul.

The CBO is tight, always melodic. Like the wind that lofts the bird, they hold and support. They help these fine singers soar.

Blue? Try this album out. It’s the cure.

—Kevin Rabas

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