The Count Basie Orchestra is celebrating it's 80th Anniversary this year and for the past thirty-one years, they have been doing it without their namesake. To my embarrassment, up to about a decade ago, the only two things I knew about Count Basie were that Stevie Wonder called him out in his 1976 song "Sir Duke" ("For there's Basie, Miller, Satchmo/And the king of all Sir Duke") and the Count himself appeared with his Orchestra in the 1974 film Blazing Saddles.
Now I know Basie helped bring Big Band swing music to several generations long after its peak in the Thirties and Forties, working with legendary vocalists like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett among many others through the years and recording more than 75 albums with the Count Basie Orchestra. And I know that I have listened to A Very Swingin' Basie Christmas more than a dozen times since the first week of November and each time is better than the last. The eleven traditonal songs are innovatively arranged and played with the band's rich, vibrant signature sound. The guest vocalists seem to fit in the mix well without overpowering or being overpowered by their backing. This may very well be the most important and significant disc ever featured here at The Hideaway and it truly deserves a much better fate. The best that I can do is highly recommend it to anyone with ears and honestly pledge that it will get significant playtime each Holiday as long as there is breath in my lungs.
As further proof of my unexcuseable ignorance, the above album from 2008 has been in sitting in one of my two Christmas music drawers (see below) for an unknown number of years and though stripped of it's shrinkwrap, it was still sealed shut with that top piece of adhesive tape running across the top of the disc - you know what I'm talking about. The disc has since been opened and played a couple of times before being ripped to a CD-R along with A Very Swingin' Basie Christmas - they both fit on a single disc with a little discreet editing.
Also definitely worth seeking out is Tony Bennett's first Christmas music album from way back in 1968 titled Snowfall - The Tony Bennett Christmas Album.