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Count Basie: The King Of Swing

The GRAMMY Museum is pleased to present Count Basie: The King Of Swing, a new exhibit opening on September 29. The exhibit will give visitors a glimpse into the life of the nine-time GRAMMY-winning jazz great through unique artifacts from the private collection of the Count Basie estate.

  • Fourth Floor, Mike Curb Gallery
  • Sep 29, 2016 Through Apr 16, 2017
  • M-F: 10:30AM - 6:30PM
    S-S: 10:00AM - 6:30PM

The Count Basie vaults are filled with a treasure trove of both personal and professional assets, telling the story of the jazz icon. We are thrilled that the GRAMMY Museum will exhibit a few of these never-before-seen pieces for the public to learn more about the incredible life of Count Basie.

- Joy S. Rosenthal, Trustee, William J. Basie Trust

About Count Basie

Jazz icon Count Basie was born William James Basie on August 21, 1904 in Red Bank, New Jersey.  Count Basie is considered one of the greatest bandleaders of all time. He was the arbiter of the big-band swing sound and his unique style of fusing blues and jazz established swing as a predominant music style. Basie changed the jazz landscape and shaped mid-20th century popular music, duly earning the title “King of Swing” because he made the world want to dance.

In 1937 Basie took his group, Count Basie and His Barons of Rhythm, to New York to record their first album with Decca Records under their new name, The Count Basie Orchestra. The Count Basie Orchestra had a slew of hits that helped to define the big-band sound of the 1930s and '40s. Some of their notable chart toppers included “Jumpin' at the Woodside,” “April in Paris,” and Basie’s own composition, “One O'Clock Jump,” which became the orchestra's signature piece. Basie was a true innovator, leading the band for almost 50 years and recording on over 480 albums. He is credited for creating the use of the two "split" tenor saxophone, emphasizing the rhythm section, riffing with a big band, using arrangers to broaden their sound, and beautifully layering masterful vocalists.  Basie was often recognized for his understated yet captivating style of piano playing and his precise, impeccable musical leadership.

Basie earned nine GRAMMY Awards and made history in 1958 by becoming the first African-American to receive the award.  He has had an unprecedented four recordings inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame – “One O’Clock Jump” (1979), “April in Paris” (1985), “Everyday I Have the Blues” (1992), and “Lester Leaps In” (2005), along with a slew of other awards and honors not only for his music, but for his humanitarianism and philanthropy around the world.

Basie died April 26, 1984 in Hollywood, FL but his legacy is still swinging strong.   

Count Basie: The King Of Swing will be on display in the GRAMMY Museum’s Mike Curb Gallery on the fourth floor through April 16, 2016.