Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra
(1929-1932) (BMG/RCA)

Copyright (C) Thomas L. Morgan 1995. All rights reserved.

Moten CD If you are interested in the beginnings of Swing, when the rhythms was hot and the music never stopped, then the rerelease of Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra could be for you.

This group plays an important part in the development of the Kansas City sound. Count Basie joined the group as an arranger and soon took over Moten's spot at the piano. Basie was instrumental in bringing other members into this organization and when Moten died in 1935, Basie took over the group. It became the basis for his big band which would thrill jazz listeners for the next fifty years.

Besides Basie, Moten's Orchestra during this time, featured Bennie's brother, Buster, playing the accordion, an instrument normally not associated with jazz. The group also contained such jazz greats as "Hot Lips" Page blowing the trumpet, Ben Webster on tenor saxophone and Walter Page banging the bass.

The Moten Orchestra had the sophistication of Ellington's band of the same era, though this Kansas City group had a much better feel for blues compostions. A significant change in jazz is evident on these recordings. The first fifteen recordings use a banjo and tuba for the bass line which is reminscent of early jazz music. When Walter Page joins the group on the last seven compositions, his stand up bass serves that purpose, resulting in a much more modern sound.

The CD's recordings, made for the Columbia Bluebird label between 1929 and 1932, include many gems. New Vine Street is one of many cuts that show the great early jazz guitar work of Eddie Durham, whose style is reminscent of Eddie Lang. Rit-Dit-Ray is a personal favorite with some great piano playing by the "Count" and skat vocals by drummer Willie McWashington. A young Jimmy Rushing sings six songs including That Too, Do Blueswhich appears to be an early version of a later hit called, Good Morning, Blues.The CD also includes a Hoagy Carmichael number, New Orleans, also sung by Rushing.

The collection of songs, which has been out of print for many years, has been remastered and cleaned up with the NoNoise process. The results are wonderful, as there is no indication of the age of these performances.

The CD has everything that a vintage jazz fan should love. It is great music from a great orchestra and certainly deserves a spot in your music library. Bennie Moten's Cds can be acquired by clicking here.

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