|TLCBO's director Scotty Barnhart|
The iconic big band leader Count Basie started his orchestra 82 years ago. The orchestra quickly became known for presenting high-grade swing and blues. The orchestra is still touring with trumpeter Scotty Barnhart at the helm, and the orchestra is currently packed with solid jazz musicians such as pianist Bobby Floyd, trumpeter Kris Johnson, and longtime member’s trumpeter Michael Williams and saxophonist Doug Miller. Friday evening The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, as it’s presently known, played the Paradise Jazz Series at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall, the first time in a decade. Before the concert started, Barnhart told the near-capacity audience November 17th, 72 years ago the Basie orchestra played a week-long engagement at Orchestra Hall. To sort of commemorate that time in Detroit’s jazz history, the LCBO performed some songs featured during that engagement. The LCBO remains true to the formula that made it legendary, which is swinging until the audience feet are sore and their souls are throbbing. The concert had plenty of mic dropping moments. Topping the list was the orchestra’s reimagined version of Stevie Wonder’s classic “My Cherie Amour,” and deep into the first set guest vocalist Brianna Thomas joining the orchestra for two numbers. Thomas' voice fits comfortably in a large ensemble setting. And her voice seems handcrafted for belting the blues. Thomas didn’t get much airtime. Thomas only sang four songs. It would’ve been heavenly to listen to her sing the entire concert. The LCBO swung below sea level all evening, performing many goodies from Basie’s repertoire such as Frank Foster’s “Who Me,” ”Brand X,” “Back to the Apple,” and “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be”. The featured soloists were wonderful, particularly saxophonist Doug Miller, and Doug Lawrence. Barnhart contributed some choice solos, too. Not only is Barnhart an exceptional leader he’s also one helluva trumpeter.