The song of the day for Friday, August 21. 2015 is “Poor Little Rich Girl.”
About This Song
Noël Coward wrote “Poor Little Rich Girl” for the 1925 revue On With the Dance. It is one of his most popular songs.
About This Version
Tony Bennett recorded “Poor Little Rich Girl” with Count Basie and His Orchestra in 1959 for their first album: Basie/Bennett. The very effective arrangement is by Ralph Sharon.
Today we celebrate the birth of one of America’s great band leaders: William James Basie, who was born in Red Bank, New Jersey on August 21, 1904. He started playing piano in his youth; by the time he was a teenager, he had dropped out of school and starting his career as a jazz pianist.
He made the decision to move west to Kansas City, where he joined Bennie Moten’s band in 1929. After Moten’s death in 1936, Basie formed his own band and took it to Chicago. In that time, he worked with some of the great jazz musicians: Lester Young, Freddie Green, Buck Clayton, Jimmy Rushing and Joe Williams.
In 1937, he took his band to New York, playing in venues like the Roseland Ballroom and The Savoy. During this time, he played with Billie Holiday and other noted artists of the day.
Like most big bands after the war, Basie had to disband his large group, but continued to play in smaller combos and moved on to the new forms, like bebop, with a new group of musicians: Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis, among others. He gradually reformed his band, toured Europe and kept his band alive and vibrant all the way into the 1980s, including a wonderful appearance in Mel Brook’s film Blazing Saddles.
We note here that Tony Bennett’s drummer, Harold Jones, played with Count Basie from 1967 to 1972. Tony Bennett always introduces Jones as “Count Basie’s Favorite Drummer.” We have a little video of Harold Jones playing with Count Basie and His Orchestra that seems to prove that point:
Happy Birthday, Count Basie. Thanks for all the great music.
“Poor Little Rich Girl,” as well as Basie/Bennett, is available from iTunes.