The City Magazine Since 1975

Swing Town

Swing Town
April 2009
Charleston Jazz Orchestra pays tribute to an American legend

For those who’ve yet to kick up their heels with our resident big band, the Charleston Jazz Orchestra (CJO) continues its inaugural season with a foot-tapping tribute to jazz legend Count Basie. The heralded pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer led his self-named orchestra for almost five decades before he passed away 25 years ago, in April 1984. His celebrated collaborators included tenor saxophonist Lester Young; singers Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Frank Sinatra; and a young Quincy Jones, who found early work as the bandleader’s arranger. “By Basie’s own account, guitarist Freddie Green, who was born and raised in Charleston, defined the sound of that band more than any other,” says CJO producer Jack McCray, who along with artistic director Charlton Singleton, “couldn’t wait to get an all-Basie concert together. This is the most swinging band in the history of American music.” Tackling Count Basie’s arrangements is the perfect new foray for this freshly assembled band, whose primary goal is to combine technical proficiency with unadulterated swing. Following the Count’s lead, here’s to hoping that the CJO swings us through another 50 years of jazz in Charleston. Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St. Saturday, April 4, 7 p.m. $40-$15. (843) 641-0011,