All About That Basie
One can easily argue that the Basie band, from the moment of its mid-’30s Kansas City emergence, did a great deal to set the course of American popular music as a whole. And now, long after William James Basie’s 1984 death, the band continues as a legacy institution, full of good vibes and a solid professional ethic under the leadership of Scotty Barnhart. All About that Basie mixes it up between older Basie staples (“Sent for You Yesterday,” “April in Paris,” trumpeter Thad Jones’ tart midtempo blues “From One to Another”) and fairly surprising, at times hard-to-recognize arrangements of more modern pop and R&B hits by the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire, Leonard Cohen, and Adele. The guests bring tons of personality to the affair, including singer Kurt Elling in top ballad form, organist Joey DeFrancesco sounding like a big band unto himself, and Stevie Wonder lending a simple and honest poignancy on harmonica.