Count Basie and His Orchestra - Basie (1958), 5/10

The electric, manic beginning of “The Kid from Red Bank” sets things off on a soaring trajectory, which is unfortunately unmatched by the rest of the album apart from a few short individual moments of brilliance. The record itself is pleasing enough, but nothing special outside of the context of big band, a shame considering some of the outstanding individual performances. You can feel the energy dissipate immediately after the opener during “Duet”, a simple and decent, yet inconsequential tune, an offense repeated several times later on. The soulful horn performances on tracks like “After Supper” or “Double-O” add moments of respite in what otherwise can become a slog of a listening experience, increasingly frustrating with each juxtaposition of soul and passion with lifeless composition during very key moments in the record, particularly in the second half that seems to drag on ad infinitum in comparison to the adrenalizing first half. In comparison to others, particularly Duke Ellington's work from this era, Basie is too simple and repetitive to be engaging. I am personally a fan of the aesthetic presented by Basie and the orchestra which adds insult to injury when the tunes seem to fall flat one after the other. “The Kid From Red Bank”, “After Supper” and “Double-O” offer a trio of fantastic songs backed by a very tight foundation in the orchestra; apart from these tracks there is nothing special worth considering. Standouts in the complete recordings, which add quite significant value to the listening experience, include the delectably smooth duo of "Silks and Satins" and "Sleepwalker's Serenade". "The Late Late Show" in both instrumental and vocal form prove mostly unmoving but still a fun addition in context.