Basie, Count [Bill; William]
- Wolfram Knauer
(b Red Bank, NJ, Aug 21, 1904; d Hollywood, CA, April 26, 1984). American jazz pianist and bandleader. After taking piano lessons as a child, he was soon playing ragtime and show tunes at local dance events and performing for silent movies. In 1924 he worked with the singer and dancer Katy Krippen with whom he also toured. In the mid-1920s he met Fats Waller, who introduced him to the sound of the pipe organ, after which he was always fascinated by the instrument. He played in several bands in New York and in 1926 he embarked on a tour with Gonzelle White, during which he heard Walter Page’s band, the Blue Devils, in the Midwest. Basie left White’s group in Kansas City, worked as a silent movie organist, and was active on the city’s lively music scene. He heard many of the so-called territory bands, played for a while with Page’s Blue Devils, and then became a member of the Bennie Moten Orchestra, first as an arranger and then as a pianist....