Why is American jazz band leader William “Count” Basie a classic? Basie pioneered the Kansas City jazz style that has come to define music of the pre-war era. He had a penchant for sniffing out emerging talent and proved his command through notable collaborations with greats like Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and even Tito Puente. His orchestra served as a training ground for young jazz virtuosos like Buck Clayton, Frank Foster, and Buddy Rich. Basie also collected a stable of legendary arrangers, including Quincy Jones, Billy Eckstine, and Benny Carter. Still, what continues to thrill fans and draw audiences to hear the Count Basie Orchestra nearly 20 years after his passing are the immeasurable ways his talented musicians continue to churn jazz standards into fun, fresh, and genuinely exciting live performances. This celebrated big band, jazz, and swing ensemble — one of the longest-running pop orchestras in music today — has won 17 Grammy Awards, with a promising new album on the horizon. The group heads to San Francisco for an all-ages, one-night-only performance of hits from Basie’s songbook and other holiday classics. Revel in the sound of a much-celebrated, timeless artist and catch a part of his musical legacy on the move.
Sun., Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m., 2012