April 26, 1984, William “Count” Basie dies at the age of 79.
I’ve studied with some brilliant teachers in my life. One of my biggest mentors was Norman Gold — he played for Phil Woods & Erroll Garner and was piano teacher to the stars.
When Norman talked about Count Basie he talked about the spaces between the notes. That there is the groove, and you just need to show up, sparingly, to enforce the groove. When you watch Basie play, he is so relaxed and calm yet the piano is boogieing!
Norman would make me do exercises that he used on gigs with Davey Schildkraut. Ten minutes before they went onstage they’d start the song together without instruments. For example, he’d call All of of Me in C, 1 2 3 4 (the song and the tempo) and then for ten minutes they’d keep the song going in their heads. When they got on stage they’d start wherever they were in the tune! Talk about having your groove together. I used to sit at my lesson for the first ten minutes keeping some song in my head and then start playing. My groove improved. Thanks, Norm.
Funny story about Davey. He would never go on the road with Miles or Dizzy. He wouldn’t leave his mailman gig. He was happy just walkin his route, taking jazz solos in his head.
I tried to get my best friend, swing singer John Malino, to come over and sing this with me today, but he was watching the kids .
Well, here is All of Me – my attempt to honor the Count in his style.