Basie, William "Bill" "Count"
band leader, pianist
After Moten's death in 1935, Basie co-led an eight-piece group with Buster Smith called the Barons of Rhythm, which opened at Sol Stibel's Club Reno. The band included many former members of the Blue Devils and the Moten bands: Walter Page, Lester Young, Buster Smith, Lips Page, and Jack Washington. Eddie Durham joined the band in 1936, contributing fine arrangements which added polish to the band.
Basie and his band played at the Reno Club with very few out-of-town engagements. The band played from 8:00 pm to 4:00 am nightly; and WXBY radio broadcast the Basie band nightly between 11:15 and midnight. Producer John Hammond heard the broadcasts and came to Kansas City to hear the band. The Basie band was also championed by Dave E. Dexter, Jr., a Kansas City native writing in Chicago for Down Beat magazine.
Basie signed a recording contract with the Decca label in the fall of 1936. An enlarged, 13-piece band was paid $750.00 for 24 songs with no royalties. These recordings included:swinging, riff-based, jump blues. The Decca recordings, as well as other recordings for the Vocalian and Columbia labels, made the Basie band an international success.
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