A great many people, possessed by the perfectly respectable emotion of nostalgia, tend to say of this or that artist that he is as good as ever he was. As no artist since the world began is ever as good as he was, or as bad either for that matter.
But at the heart of every group is the rhythm section and at the heart of this one is Basie, directing operations with the help of Ray Brown and Louie Bellson. Both Ray and Louie concentrate almost exclusively on a rhythmic role, although there is a drum solo in “Red Bank Blues” and the bass suddenly cuts loose in “Freeport Blues”.
There are a great many passages where what appears to be a bass solo or a piano solo turns out to be a duet between both instruments, and what is finally most arresting of all about this whole production is the effect which the constant felicity of the instrumentalists has on the listener’s imagination. Just as Basie’s organ playing has not only the immediacy of the present but also the sweetness of an echo from the past, so the instrumental playing generally possesses rather more than just instrumental nuances; for there are moments when the passion of the blues playing is so insistent as to call up the ghost of old, half-remembered lines from Joe Turner and Jimmy Rushing.
2. Hanging Out
3. Red Bank Blues
2. Freeport Blues