The Public Records 9/28/18
Well hello there; we didn’t see you come in – but we’re glad you’re here; for now is the season for An Sibin and The Public Records. Blustery days, earlier and earlier evenings, sweater-needed nights and all with that heavy aroma of harvest in the air – a perfect fit for our wood paneled walls and ever growing collection of albums.
This week we invite you to pull up a chair, order a Manatawny Odd Fellows gin and tonic, and get ready to begin enjoying reflective autumn Friday evenings. We have decided to get things going with a heavy dose of smooth sixties groove from our Jazz/Funk/Disco with Arthur Prysock and Count Basie (Verve, 1965).
Arthur Prysock and his heavy yet calming voice sing the great classics while being backed by Count Basie and His Orchestra with their own untroubled, less-is-more approach that made them ‘the greatest’* jazz orchestra of their day. The album is jam packed with tunes you definitely know and some that you won’t; but all that just add to the joy of listening.
The vocalist of this studio album, Arthur Prysock, was born in South Carolina around 1924. During the second world war, he ended up in Hartford, Connecticut working in the aircraft industry. It was during this time that he began to get his chops by singing with small bands after work.
By 1944 he had built up enough of a reputation that he was able to sign with the bandleader Buddy Johnson and Prysock became very popular on the live performance circuits. It was also during his time with Johnson that Prysock sung for recordings with the label Decca Records. By 1952, he was able to go solo; he also signed with Decca and continued to gain in popularity.
During the 1960s, Arthur Prysock worked with Old Town Records and Verve. Putting out over 30 albums, a short lived TV show, and commercials up until the late 80s. He even did a Gamble and Huff disco track for his daughter, who like many teens of the her day, was smitten with Saturday Night Fever.
It was on the Verve label that Prysock worked with Count Basie and His Orchestra, a big band that was formed in 1935 and still continues performing to this day. The orchestra which got its start in Kansas City, Missouri is comprised of 16 to 18 members. However, it wasn’t always this way.
Originally half the size and called The Barons Of Rhythm, Basie and his orchestra earned their chops in the famous and extremely competitive Kansas City ‘jam-session’ style of longer improvisations of memorized riffs. After being heard on the radio by John Hammond, a music-critic and record producer, Basie and the Barons were offered an invitation to move to New York and bring their style with them. They readily agreed to a new life and were at the same time a fresh sound for an audience used to a more subtle approach to jazz.
As time and tastes changed, the original style of ‘head-arrangements’ or riffs that the orchestra memorized and improvised on gave way to a more east coast way of having written and rehearsed parts. The line up changed frequently as well and saw many faces such as Lester Young, Billie Holiday, Buddy Rich, and Quincy Jones. In the late 1940s, the orchestra took a bit of a break, but by the early 1950s was back at it backing the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra.
In 1965 on Verve Records these two powerhouses of the American musical tradition teamed up and brought us an album that fits right into this room and is chock full of 14 standards by names such as Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, and Joe Young.
Come and venture downstairs. The evenings aren’t getting any warmer. Take a listen to our album of the week and pick a few more off of the shelves – oh, and don’t forget to order another gin and tonic.