Saturday, Oct 20, 2018
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Stevie Wonder among many standout guests on Count Basie Orchestra offering




Count Basie Orchestra (Concord Jazz)

Here’s a cool, big band jazz project that spans the years.

The Count Basie Orchestra, under the direction of Scotty Barnhart, plays not only swing from its earliest years and its decades with great singers such as Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, but also more modern music with special guests Stevie Wonder, Take 6, Jon Faddis, Carmen Bradford, Jamie Davis, Joey DeFranceso, Wycliffe Gordon, and Kurt Elling.

I was hoping Wonder would do vocals on his classic song from the 1970s, “My Cherie Amour.” Instead, it’s an all-instrumental reinterpretation for big band with an amazing treat for another reason: Wonder playing one heck of a harmonica solo.

Multi-Grammy winner Take 6, an a cappella group that has won more awards than any other in history and was influenced by Toledo’s own father of vocalese, the late Jon Hendricks, kicks off the set with a great version of the Joe Williams classic, “Everyday I Have the Blues.”

That’s followed up by a swing version of an Earth, Wind, & Fire song, “Can’t Hide Love,” featuring Gordon on trombone and Eric Reed on piano. There’s even Leonard Cohen’s soulful, impassioned classic, “Hallelujah” delicately redone.

This album was produced by eight-time Grammy award-winning producer and former Basie drummer Gregg Field, who notes the common thread throughout the disc is the Basie sound. It’s not just for your elders.

Contact Tom Henry at, 419-724-6079, or via Twitter @ecowriterohio.

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