Music is an international language. It is such a powerful tool that brings people together. Every decade had its best artists. In this blog I want to concentrate on three decades, and henceforth take you on a nostalgic trip back in time to one of the best artists of the 1940’s.
Music in the 1940s was mainly built around the jazz and big band styles that were popular during the day. Artists like Rosemary Clooney, and Artie Shaw helped to define the musical era with their unique brand of entertaining crowds through their music. William James “Count” Basie (August 21, 1904 – April 26, 1984) was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer. His mother taught him to play the piano and he started performing in his teens. Dropping out of school, he learned to operate lights for vaudeville and to improvise accompaniment for silent films at a local movie theater in his home town of Red Bank, New Jersey. By 16 he increasingly played jazz piano at parties, resorts and other venues. In 1924 he went to Harlem, where his performing career expanded; he toured with groups to the major jazz cities of Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City. In 1929 he joined Bennie Moten‘s band in Kansas City, and played with them until Moten’s death in 1935.
That year Basie formed his own jazz orchestra, and in 1936 took them to Chicago for a long engagement and their first recording. He led the group for almost 50 years, creating innovations like the use of two “split” tenor saxophones, emphasizing the rhythm section, riffing with a big band, using arrangers to broaden their sound, and others. Many musicians came to prominence under his direction, including the tenor saxophonists Lester Young and Herschel Evans, the guitarist Freddie Green, trumpeters Buck Clayton and Harry “Sweets” Edison and singers Jimmy Rushing and Joe Williams. Basie’s theme songs were “One O’Clock Jump“, developed in 1935 in the early days of his band, and later “April in Paris“.
William Basie was born to Harvey Lee and Lillian Basie in Red Bank, New Jersey. His father worked as a coachman and caretaker for a wealthy judge. After automobiles replaced horses, his father became a groundskeeper and handyman for several wealthy families in the area. Both of his parents had some type of musical background. His father played the mellophone, and his mother played the piano; in fact, she gave Basie his first piano lessons. She took in laundry and baked cakes for sale for a living. She paid 25 cents a lesson for piano instruction for him.
Not much of a student in school, Basie dreamed of a traveling life, inspired by touring carnivals which came to town. He finished junior high schoolbut spent much of his time at the Palace Theater in Red Bank, where doing occasional chores gained him free admission to performances. He quickly learned to improvise music appropriate to the acts and the silent movies.
Though a natural at the piano, Basie preferred drums. Discouraged by the obvious talents of Sonny Greer, who also lived in Red Bank and became Duke Ellington‘s drummer in 1919, Basie at age 15 switched to piano exclusively. Greer and Basie played together in venues until Greer set out on his professional career. By then, Basie was playing with pick-up groups for dances, resorts, and amateur shows, including Harry Richardson’s “Kings of Syncopation”. When not playing a gig, he hung out at the local pool hall with other musicians, where he picked up on upcoming play dates and gossip. He got some jobs in Asbury Park at the Jersey Shore, and played at the Hong Kong Inn until a better player took his place.
Count Basie’s music is timeless here at Harmony at 154th Street. Besides providing pre-recorded music from great artists of that time, and other eras; we also provide live musical entertainment. Many people who attend our center love the live entertainment/sing along aspect of our center. It is scientifically proven that singing out loud makes you feel emotionally, physically, and mentally better. As I mentioned at the beginning of this; music is a powerful tool, and we take full advantage of it here in Harmony at 154th Street. Come join us and bring music to our ears!
At Harmony Social Adult Day Care, we believe everyone’s health is important, which is why we have all of our Certified Home Health Aides, Personal Care Aides, and staff trained efficiently, so that you or your loved ones are getting the right health professionals providing safe care at our facility. If you or someone you know is having difficulty with activities of daily living due to depression, please feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation at 718-585-5440. Or you can visit our website at www.harmonyadultdaycare.com