Dave Harrington on Count Basie and the Kansas City 7

The Hidden Gems feature has slowed a bit this year, but the ones that are coming in are prime examples of why I love the feature. There’s always records lurking out there that just aren’t in the conversation and this one from site favorite Dave Harrington (DARKSIDE, Taper’s Choice) is good argument in favor of reassessing the past. Harrington’s been a fixture here, not only with his work in DARKSIDE and Taper’s Choice, but in collaborations like his outing this year with Patrick Shiroishi and Max Jaffe. Slip below to see Dave explore an often missed, but essential release from Count Basie and the Kansas City 7.

“My old friend Dr. Nate Sloan and I were roommates in college (before he was a doctor of musicology) and one day he returned home with a clutch of vinyls he’d rescued from the trash in the music library,” recalls Harrington.  “At the top of the stack was this true gem of a gem by Count Basie.  I grew up as a jazz bass player and I knew Count Basie but I never had really gotten into the catalogue and he was never as near and dear to me as, say, Oscar Peterson or Bill Evans.  But then all that changed.  I put this record on the turntable and I couldn’t take it off… I didn’t listen to anything else.  It was the perfect any time of day, all times of day music, and it was particularly good late at night, which was my preferred time of day at the time.  The arrangements are impeccable, swinging and inside, but with flourishes you don’t expect.  Basie plays organ on a few tunes and it is a pure mood.  You can really hear the detail in Freddie Green’s guitar playing. The recording is just warm and intimate and amazing.  And the flutes–THE FLUTES!  A couple years later, I returned to it and unlocked a (possibly heretical) deeper secret still–if you play it on your turntable as slow as the turntable will possibly go, it is transcendent.  The band is so locked in that even at the slowest of speeds every note connects and swings, every transient of the hi-hat becomes a rustle of a leaf and every pull on the bass a pillow.” 

“The flutes become bass flutes, the tenor becomes a baritone sax, it becomes slurmy and stretchy and even more wonderful.  Once I discovered that, I went through a whole other months-long phase where it was the only record I had in my studio, the only one i would play on a small turntable with a nice built-in speaker–why bother listening to anything else when you can listen to this record, I thought.  Still to this day I keep it on the top of my record console right next to the turntable because I play it too often to have to bend down and look for it.  I think to be honest it has influenced me in ways that I don’t really even think about — namely that with my new band, The Pictures Band, that’s been playing my solo music and features a 4 piece horn section, I have multiple songs that are SLOW, like, really intentionally slow and stretched out and tumbling slowly and gently from one bar to the next.  But, that’s an obvious way to think about it.” 

“I’m sure it’s in there in my mind and ears and hands even deeper than that, because I have spent so much time with it.  And before I forget–I have good news for you!  This record is easily obtained for a modest price all over the place, it’s not rare, it’s not obscure, and you’ll hopefully play it so slow that you won’t care about the condition of the copy you bought for $7, because you will be transported by it.  I hope!  I’ve bought several copies and given them to dear friends over the years.  If I ever see you in a record store and they have a copy, I will buy one for you too.”

This one was certainly not on my radar, but given Dave’s testimonial it is now, and I’m looking to hit that slow version as soon as possible. The record, is, as he mentions, a fairly easy pickup these days in proper used bins. Always a good quality for a Hidden Gem in my book. Dave’s got a new solo record on the way as well, and I recommend checking out a cut below from his upcoming new album Skull Dream, available from Maximum Overdub July 26th.

Support the artist. Buy it HERE

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