Count Basie – Chairman of the Board – The Reissues that Beats the Originals (and of course the Classic Records Remaster)

More Count Basie

More Chairman of the Board

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  • A Shootout Winning copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and Double Plus (A++) sound on the second
  • From first note to last, this copy is big, clear, rich and lively, with huge amounts of space around the band
  • Forget the honky, hard-sounding Roulette originals, and of course the second-rate Classic Records pressing – this reissue is the way to go
  • 4 1/2 stars: “This 1958 date for Roulette was a rare chance for the orchestra to perform on its own, and listeners to hear how powerful the band could be when its concentration was undiverted… The record is admittedly heavy on the blues, but it’s a brassy, powerful vision of the blues… A dynamic date, it shows the ‘new testament’ edition of Basie’s orchestra in top form.”

This reissue is spacious, open, transparent, rich and sweet. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology, with the added benefit of mastering using the more modern cutting equipment of the ’70s. We are of course here referring to the good modern mastering of 30+ years ago, not the dubious and too often disastrous modern mastering of today. 

The combination of old and new works wonders on this title as you will surely hear for yourself on these superb sides. We were impressed with the fact that these pressings excel in so many areas of reproduction. What was odd about it — odd to most audiophiles but not necessarily to us — was just how rich and Tubey Magical the reissue can be on the right pressing.

This leads me to think that most of the natural, full-bodied, lively, clear, rich sound of the album is on the tape, and that all one has to do to get that vintage sound on to a record is simply to thread up the tape on the right machine and hit play.

The fact that nobody seems to be able to make a record that sounds this good these days tells me that in fact, I’m wrong to think that such an approach would work. It just seems to me that somebody should have been able to figure out how to do it by now. In our experience that is simply not the case in the modern world of vinyl reissues, and has not been for many years.

What the best sides of this outstanding reissue pressing have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1959
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments of this stellar piano trio having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the club, putting you right in the audience where you want to be

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we describe above, and for that you will need to take this copy of the record home and throw it on your table.

A Big Group of Musicians Needs This Kind of Space

One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.

Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

And most of the time those very special pressings are just plain more involving. When you hear a copy that does all that — a copy like this one — it’s an entirely different listening experience.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Blues In Hoss’ Flat 
H.R.H. (Her Royal Highness) 
Segue In C 
Kansas City Shout 
Speaking Of Sounds

Side Two

T.V. Time 
Who Me 
The Deacon 
Half Moon Street 
Mutt & Jeff

AMG  4 1/2 Star Review

Although it appeared at a time when Count Basie was enjoying respect from all quarters (as evidenced by the pop acclaim of several Grammy awards and the jazz faithful’s enthusiasm for his concert at Newport), Chairman of the Board was, comparatively, a low-profile session. The record was surrounded in Basie’s discography by several prize-winners and a parade of studio collaborations — with vocalists Tony Bennett, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, and Billy Eckstine, plus arranger Neal Hefti.

This 1958 date for Roulette was a rare chance for the orchestra to perform on its own, and listeners to hear how powerful the band could be when its concentration was undiverted. Of course, Basie’s band already possessed three fine arrangers (Frank Foster, Thad Jones, and Frank Wess) and at least a dozen solo voices. Each of the ten songs on Chairman of the Board were originals by Foster, Jones, Wess, or Ernie Wilkins, all of them arranged by the composer. The record is admittedly heavy on the blues, but it’s a brassy, powerful vision of the blues… A dynamic date, it shows the “new testament” edition of Basie’s orchestra in top form.

Just about everyone in Roxy Music at the time helped out on the album — notable exceptions being Andy Mackay and Brian Eno… All this said, many of the covers aim for an elegant late-night feeling not far off from the well-sculpted Ferry persona of the ’80s and beyond, though perhaps a touch less bloodless and moody in comparison. In terms of sheer selection alone, meanwhile, Ferry’s taste is downright impeccable… Throughout Ferry’s instantly recognizable croon carries everything to a tee, and the overall mood is playful and celebratory. Wrapping up with a grand take on “These Foolish Things” itself, this album is one of the best of its kind by any artist.