Basie, Count [Bill; William]
- J. Bradford Robinson
(b Red Bank, NJ, Aug 21, 1904; d Hollywood, CA, April 26, 1984). American jazz bandleader and pianist. He was a leading figure of the swing era in jazz and, alongside Duke Ellington, an outstanding representative of big-band style.
After studying the piano with his mother, as a young man he went to New York, where he met James P. Johnson, Fats Waller (with whom he studied informally) and other black pianists of the Harlem stride school. Before he was 20 he toured extensively on the Keith and Theatre Owners' Booking Association vaudeville circuits as a solo pianist, accompanist and musical director for blues singers, dancers and comedians, an early training which was to prove significant in his later career. From 1923 to 1926 he performed with various bands in New York. Stranded in Kansas City in 1927 while accompanying a touring group, he remained there, playing in silent-film theatres. In ...