Count Basie Orchestra
The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra
In the history of Jazz music, there is only one bandleader that has the distinction of having his orchestra still performing sold out concerts all over the world, with members personally chosen by him, for over 30 years after his passing. Pianist and bandleader William James “Count” Basie was and still is an American institution that personifies the grandeur and excellence of Jazz. The Count Basie Orchestra, today directed by Scotty Barnhart, has won every respected jazz poll in the world at least once, won 18 Grammy Awards, performed for Kings, Queens, and other world Royalty, appeared in several movies, television shows, at every major jazz festival and major concert hall in the world. The latest honor is the critically acclaimed release in 2015 of A Very Swingin’ Basie Christmas!, the very first holiday album in the 80 year history of the orchestra. Released on Concord Music, it went to #1 on the Jazz charts and sold out on Amazon! Special guests include vocalists Johnny Mathis, Ledisi, our own Carmen Bradford and pianist Ellis Marsalis.
Some of the greatest soloists, composers, arrangers, and vocalists in jazz history such as Lester Young, Billie Holiday, Frank Foster, Thad Jones, Sonny Payne, Freddie Green, Snooky Young, Frank Wess, and Joe Williams, became international stars once they began working with the legendary Count Basie Orchestra. This great 18-member orchestra is still continuing the excellent history started by Basie of stomping and shouting the blues, as well as refining those musical particulars that allow for the deepest and most moving of swing.
William “Count” Basie was born in Red Bank, New Jersey in 1904. He began his early playing days by working as a silent movie pianist and organist and by eventually working with the Theater Owners Booking Agency (TOBA) circuit. It is also sometimes referred to as the “chitlin’ circuit” that catered primarily to the African- American communities in the South, East, and Mid-West. In 1927, Basie, then touring with Gonzelle White and the Big Jazz Jamboree, found himself stranded in Kansas City, Missouri. It was here that he would begin to explore his deep love of the Blues, and meet his future band mates including bassist Walter Page.
Orchestra Leader Scotty Barnhart
Whether it is performing as a featured soloist with The Count Basie Orchestra in venues all over the world for twenty years, playing muted solos behind legends Frank Sinatra, Cab Calloway, Joe Williams, Rosemary Clooney, or Tony Bennett, appearing with pianist Marcus Roberts at Carnegie Hall, giving lectures at universities in South Africa, Japan, Europe, and all over the United States, or leading his own quintet at major Jazz festivals and night clubs, musicians and critics alike have acknowledged the emergence of a exciting and powerful voice in the world of Jazz. Trumpeter, composer, arranger, author, recording artist, and university professor of jazz studies, Scotty Barnhart began receiving critical acclaim from his work with Marcus Roberts who featured him alongside Wynton Marsalis on the 1990 release of Deep In The Shed (RCA/Novus), and the accolades continue with his most recent accomplishment being his appointment as Director of The Count Basie Orchestra in September 2013.
Scotty is in his 21st year as a featured soloist, composer, arranger, and now the Director with The Count Basie Orchestra. He was the only musician featured on two Grammy-nominated Jazz recordings in the same category in 1997, Portraits in Blue with pianist Marcus Roberts and The Count Basie Orchestra with The New York Voices, with the latter taking the honors. The Count Basie Orchestra’s Count Plays Duke, which also features solos by Scotty, also won the Grammy Award in 1999.
Continuing a schedule of worldwide travel with the Count Basie Orchestra, and shuttling from Los Angeles to Tallahassee as a Professor at Florida State University, and being in demand for lectures and as a guest soloist and conductor, Scotty Barnhart is one of the most important musicians working today. With the release of his debut recording with an all-star group of musicians, his book The World of Jazz Trumpet on shelves worldwide, and his leading one of the most important and innovative jazz orchestras in history, the future of jazz music and jazz education is in good hands.