“Life is a lot like jazz... it's best when you improvise”. George Gershwin
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Jazz Birthdays - August 21

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Count Basie  (1904 -1984) - Art Farmer (1928 - 1999) 

Count Basie, a leading figure of the swing era in jazz and, alongside Duke Ellington, an outstanding representative of big band style.
After studying piano with his mother, as a young man he went to New York, where he met James P. Johnson, Fats Waller (with whom he studied informally), another pianist of the Harlem stride school. Before he was 20 years old, he toured extensively on the Keith and TOBA vaudeville circuits as a solo pianist, accompanist, and music director for blues singers, dancers, and comedians. This provided an early training that was to prove significant in his later career. Stranded in Kansas City in 1927 while accompanying a touring group, he remained there, playing in silent-film theaters. In July 1928, he joined Walter Page's Blue Devils which, in addition to Page, included Jimmy Rushing; both later figured prominently in Basie's own band. Basie left the Blue Devils early in 1929 to play with two lesser-known bands in the area. Later that year, he joined Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra, as did the other key members of the Blue Devils shortly after.

Art Farmer
One of the more lyrical of the post-bop musicians, Art Farmer helped to popularize the flugelhorn in jazz. Later in his career, he switched to a hybrid instrument known as the flumpet, an instrument that combined the power of the trumpet with the warmth of the flugelhorn.
Art gained greater attention after the release of a recording of his composition "Farmer's Market" in 1952. He subsequently moved from Los Angeles to New York, where he performed and recorded with musicians such as Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins, and Gigi Gryce and became known principally as a bebop player.
As Farmer's reputation grew, he expanded from bebop into more experimental forms through working with composers such as George Russell and Teddy Charles. He went on to join Gerry Mulligan's quartet and, with Benny Golson, to co-found the Jazztet. He settled in Europe in 1968 and continued to tour internationally until his death. Farmer recorded more than 50 albums under his own name, a dozen with the Jazztet, and dozens more with other leaders. His playing is known for its individuality – most noticeably, its lyricism, warmth of tone and sensitivity

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Last modified on Tuesday, 18 August 2015 16:14

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