I saw Bill Basie in a moribund airfield
near Worcester, Mass. He was 70 then.
I’d seen him in his younger days on film,
a frenetic pianist, all the energy of youth,
your eyes could hardly keep up with his hands.


A half century on the road had slowed him down,
you thought at first, but after a while it became
clear it was a matter of choice, and estate planning.
He’d fathered a generation of sons who relieved
him of the burden of the beat. All he had


to do anymore was lift a single little finger
and let it fall, that was all, and squadrons
of horns and a rhythm section responded.
I recall I wore a sport coat, in the middle
of summer. It was, I thought, the decorum
he was due after so many long years on the road.


First, stranded in Kansas City, rescuing
Bennie Moten’s Orchestra, playing at the
Reno Club as the Barons of Rhythm until
one night John Hammond heard them
on his car radio in the night air and so raved
about them that talent scouts from Decca beat him


to the scene. Hammond didn’t even know who
he was listening to when he wrote his reviews.
Most of what he heard were “head” arrangements,
musical folklore, products of a nomadic tribe and
not one artiste, concocted on the bandstand
as the mood and the muse struck.

Pres billie

Lester Young passed through, as did Don Byas
and Sweets Edison, Billie Holiday, Frank Wess.
Out of luck in ‘49, Basie broke the band up,
then brought it back to life in 1952, the New
Testament replacing the Old. I got Al Grey
and Buck Clayton to sign an album but that
was it. One doesn’t ask a Count for an autograph.

Views: 130

Comment by Arthur James on June 30, 2014 at 3:52am


con C. OOPs, Con C. Con this be on Radio?


Call up ` 9-11 & get Cell # of ` Michael Bazzett?

He wrote` poetry & Must Remember This `in '

Milkweed Edition - Nobody Fails At Meditation

Like I do.- Nobody fails at meditation like I do.

They say,

Note the arrival of thoughts

and allow hem to pass through

like clouds crossing  a summer sky.

Let judgements go.

But one cloud

is aways running

like a woman with a torn dress,

thw wind pressin its folds

against her body,

and I suddenly wish

to wheel around my horse

and thunder back to the farmhouse,

spatting her white frock

with mud as I swing from the saddle

into her trembling arms.


PS ... IF we ask for Con C.'s

autograph in his poetry books?

Ask Con C. To Write Intelligibly.

And, no send invoice IF YOU DO



OREGANO ` GREEN ` K- Vitamin


CAKE. Con C.` Folks no think You a

Lawyer. My` VA Srink request you

Counsel at ` VAMC's - Con C. okie

dogie? I tell ` Psychologist Con C. do

serve pro bono` I'll Share at Post

Combat Group ` Piano & Yodeling 

Therapy. You ` Cuss? no. Counsel.

You Save CEO` Bugs? Monarch's

Who soon will ` Freeze Globally!

Comment by koshersalaami on June 30, 2014 at 10:14pm

Great story

I saw him with his orchestra once. At college. At a time when we figured out that a small college could afford jazz greats, and he was one. 

As were Dizzy Gillespie, 
Cannonball and Nat Adderly,
and Duke Ellington with his orchestra

All in the early seventies. Duke was dead within a year of that gig. Cannonball was dead far more quickly. 


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