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Count Basie
bandleader, piano: big band

Count Basie was an incredible figure in 20th century music. His decades of playing help define the words 'jazz' and 'swing.' His style of piano playing was to-the-point and focused on the blues, relying on simple melodic phrases.

In 1936 he founded the Count Basie Orchestra which featured players like Jo Jones and Lester Young. By the end of the 30s, the Basie band was one of the most popular in the world, with massive hits like 'One O'clock Jump' and 'Jumpin at the Woodside.'

Money was tight in the 50s and Basie was forced to shrink the band to groups with six to nine people, which included incredible players such as Clark Terry and Buddy Rich.