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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Basie the cool professional, Murray the former general
This is a particularly useful book if you know basie, Basieism and what is happening already. Count Basie never was the kind of person you would expect to write a tell all, or note how much reefer was being smoked like Buck Clayton did in his memoir, or spill the inside dope on John Hammond as a number of Basieites have in their books and interviews.

Basie...
Published on April 18, 2005 by Tony Thomas

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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars For Basie aficionados only
If you expect some spectacular insight how Basie and his music came into being, you're in for a slight letdown. The book has a somewhat sedate pace, doesn't feature to many anecdotes or details about Basie and his musicians. There are certainly some interesting facts but on the whole it's rather dry. The book covers Basie's career from its beginnings. I found the chapters...
Published on August 5, 1998


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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Basie the cool professional, Murray the former general, April 18, 2005
By 
Tony Thomas (West Palm Beach Florida USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Good Morning Blues: The Autobiography Of Count Basie (Paperback)
This is a particularly useful book if you know basie, Basieism and what is happening already. Count Basie never was the kind of person you would expect to write a tell all, or note how much reefer was being smoked like Buck Clayton did in his memoir, or spill the inside dope on John Hammond as a number of Basieites have in their books and interviews.

Basie has always been a cool professional, concerned with handling the business side, keeping everybody happy, and keeping the ship above the water. He goes by the old watchword from the 50s we used to have "Maintain your cool at all times."

Thus we get a memoir that has a lot of places and names in it, a lot about working in the band, but very little that is going to surprise or wow anyone who isn't into the Basie story. He stays pretty close to the vest, and presents a very easy going story.

One example of how this book smoothes over conflict and controversy and makes everything seem smoother than the truth is how it treats the departure of Claude Fiddler Williams from the Basie Band in 1937. While the ignorant think Freddie Green was Basie's only guitarist, Williams was the band's first guitarist--and he was Downbeat guitarist of the year that year--and also played hot jazz fiddle solos with the band. Only the Live at the Chatterbox recording lets you hear his brilliant fiddling.

When the band arrived in New York, John Hammond who acted like manager, director, and overlord over the band for years, decided the Fiddler's violin was too "country" and replaced him with Freddie Green who was playing in a New York Club when Basie arrived in the Apple.

Williams who lived until last year (2004) always said John Hammond fired him, although he says he felt grateful in the end because his career as an independent fiddle soloist would have never taken off had he stayed with Basie. In this book, Basie says that he and Williams came to a friendly parting of the ways that let Williams become independent. There is lots of smoothed over stuff like this.

To be fair, this was more or less of an interview with an aging Basie with little attempt to research things. Many things get hazy or are remember conveniently as the years pass on, as I am coming to realize myself as I enter my late 50s.

The book also suffers from Albert Murray's interviewing. Murray never presents his credentials in his appearances as an "expert" on Jazz. In fact he is a retired Air Force General and has never been a musician, a musicologist, or anything professionally associated with music. He's imposed his own rather conservative viewpoint on Jazz as the all American capitalist product, rather than an expression of Black culture, oppression, and a struggle to Africanize music. Rather, Murray priviledges a progression to take Jazz closer to the forms of European classical music. So, it is no surprise that Murray isn't going to try to ferret out controversy, difficult truthes, or unconventional behavior, particularly with a man as cool and under control as Bill Basie.

Nevertheless, there is a lot of information here that exists nowhere else. Sadly, no one has written a serious biography of Basie, or a serious study of his music save for the section on him in Gunter Schuller's great book on Swing. Until that takes place, this is the book.

Like most books of this kind, the part about Basie's life before he became famous, growing up, learning his chops on piano in New York, travelling with TOBA shows, hooking up with Rushing, then with the Blue Devils, then with Moten, are the most interesting and readable parts of this book. Similarly, the book speeds up and summarizes too quickly the closer it gets to the time the interviews took place.

One thing is nice is the list of who took what solo on some of the Old Testament sides.

Still, Basie is important enough for every true Jazz lover, or at least every true swing lover, to own this book, particularly as a cheap used edition can be obtained for little!
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars For Basie aficionados only, August 5, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Good Morning Blues (Paperback)
If you expect some spectacular insight how Basie and his music came into being, you're in for a slight letdown. The book has a somewhat sedate pace, doesn't feature to many anecdotes or details about Basie and his musicians. There are certainly some interesting facts but on the whole it's rather dry. The book covers Basie's career from its beginnings. I found the chapters on his early life the most interesting ones. From about 1940 onwards Basie structures his memories along his recording sessions; and this gets a bit tedious. I can only recommend this for true Basie aficionados who want to pick up the odd piece of new information.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The book of lists, March 10, 2006
This review is from: Good Morning Blues: The Autobiography Of Count Basie (Paperback)
I'll admit to being a bit dissappointed by this book about Basie.As mentioned in some of the other reviews, you get list after list of recording dates and tour dates, interesting, but not enlightening. Where are the road stories? I feel I've learned more about Basie from other peoples books about jazz and Kansas City than I did in this book. It's too bad, I'm sure he could have filled a few books with what he saw in 60 plus years of jazz.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Count Basie autobiography, August 27, 2010
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This review is from: Good Morning Blues: The Autobiography Of Count Basie (Paperback)
I'm a big Count Basie fan and think "Good Morning Blues" is an excellent book about jazz. Basie talks about the clubs and theater gigs he played throughout his career from the very beginning to the high points of his career. He tells about the musicians who were in the many bands including, The Blue Devils, The Bennie Moten Band, and the Basie band, including many of the early theatrical groups he played for and toured with. It includes his early upbringing in Red Bank, NJ, and his effort to move up to better musical groups. He tells the stories of how poor he and his friends were including the time he and a fellow musician had to sleep in a pool hall and swiped bread from a bakery cart in order to eat. Later on he tells about making the move from Bennie Moten's band to forming his own band after the death of Bennie. He doesn't really dwell on discrimination but does tell a few stories concerned with the hard life for "sepia" musicians. He tells about his early mentor John Hammond from Columbia Records who helped promote Basie throughout his career. Also there are many stories of other musicians who played in clubs. It's a very positive book about jazz with very few disparaging remarks about other people. He tells about other musicians who he looked up to, especially other pianists; very little gossip but plenty of good stories about musicians and what happened during musical engagements. Basie says he was not a strong music reader and there is not a lot of music theory discussed. It is such a warm and positive book, you end up liking his music even more.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars How Did They Do It?, November 29, 2004
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This review is from: Good Morning Blues: The Autobiography Of Count Basie (Paperback)
How did Albert Murray and Dan Morgenstern manage to write an uninteresting and at times boring book about the great Count Basie? This is a sanitized and unemotional look at Basie's career. It is full of details that can only be of interest to a Basie historian- and that's about the only good thing you can say about it. I guess The Count wanted it that way. If you want to read everything about Basie that's ever been written, then buy this book. Otherwise, skip it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for early years and for tracking personnel changes, August 7, 2009
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This review is from: Good Morning Blues: The Autobiography Of Count Basie (Paperback)
Just finished reading this. I agree with other reviewers: this is good for Basie fans only. The early years part are interesting. But after a while, Murray seems to fill in the gaps by listing concert dates, personnel and tracks recorded in the studio.

To me most times it didn't read like a biography, it was more the voice of Murray spewing out every scrap of info he found about tours and albums. I expected more from Old Base himself. Very little personal info, as if Basie was always hiding something back. Maybe that's the way he actually was, a very simple yet introverted guy? I don't buy it. Disappointing!

Clearly though, Basie's account of his rise to fame from the twenties until WW II is very interesting and allows the reader to understand the poor living conditions of pro musicians in that era (surviving from gig to gig, travelling all over the territory), and for that reason alone this book is worth reading.

Similarly to, for instance, Alan Lomax's account of Jelly Roll Morton, Good Morning Blues reveals a page from an era long gone, but Morton's personal life of ups and downs is so much more interesting to read that Basie's bio.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Count Speaks, March 20, 2013
By 
Gordon Cohn (Long Beach, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
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The book gave me some insight into the always-cool minimalist pianist who led the greatest and most dynamic of big bands. Though there is too much diary-like listing of the band's road schedule, still the Count discusses many of the musicians who drove the band and made it the wonder it was through all the years from its beginning in Kansas City through and beyond the "atomic" years. Modest and self-effacing, the Count expresses his admiration of all the great musical figures he encountered and gives credit generously. A good man fronting a great aggregation. The book enhanced my appreciation of all the Basie albums I own and caused me to acquire another five.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Good Morning Blues, October 27, 2012
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A bit of slow read - especially for such a lively topic. A lot of mundane details about his early days. Expected more.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Morning Blues, Blues How Do You Do?, May 3, 2002
By 
Paul Devlin (Central Islip, New York United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Good Morning Blues: The Autobiography Of Count Basie (Paperback)
This book contains a wealth of historical information, and is written in a calm, mellow style. Murray perfectly captured the laid-back elegance of Basie's voice and tells his story in a smooth, graceful manner. This book contains no sensational or scandalous materials about Basie's many associates, including Lester Young, Billy Holiday, Frank Sinatra, or Benny Moten, and that's the way Basie wanted it. Basie was a gentleman who believed in proper decorum, and he never revealed any secrets about his many friends. There are no bombshells in this book, but if you are looking for a comprehensive life story of one of the 20th century's most important and succesful musicians (both commercially and artistically), this is the book for you. This is an absolute neccesity for students of jazz and is essential to any collection of jazz biographies. The information on the music alone (where they were touring, what they were playing, when they recorded what, etc.) is vast.
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Good Morning Blues: The Autobiography Of Count Basie
Good Morning Blues: The Autobiography Of Count Basie by Count Basie (Paperback - April 2002)
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