Happy Leap Day!

“And now, ladies and gentlemen, here’s a classic track from Count Basie & His Orchestra guar-an-teeeed to add more than a little lift to your Leap Day festivities: ‘Jumpin’ At The Woodside!'”


“Jumpin’ At The Woodside” was recorded in New York City on August 22, 1938 and released on Decca Records.

Featuring William “Count” Basie on piano, the members of His Orchestra on this recording are: Buck Clayton, Harry Edison & Ed Lewis, trumpet; Dan Minor, Benny Morton & Dicky Wells, trombone; Earl Warren, alto saxophone; Herschel Evans & Lester Young, tenor saxophone & clarinet; Jack Washington, baritone saxophone & alto saxophone; Freddie Green, guitar; Walter Page, bass; Jo Jones, drums.

“Jumpin’ At The Woodside” was created – not composed – using a collaborative process frequently employed by Basie and his band that might have gone something like this:

In the midst of a full-band rehearsal, pianist Basie presents a simple, four note riff played over an 8-bar chord progression. The saxophone players learn and harmonize the riff and the trumpet players come up with a response riff. The members of the rhythm section  settle on their various accompaniment parts. That becomes the pieces “A section.”

Basie then puts forth a complimentary “B section” chord progression and solos are assigned to individual players over one or the other – or both – of the sections. Back up riffs are worked out to run behind the solos and the tenor sax players decide when to switch off to their clarinets. Basie proposes an introduction using a driving, boogie-woogie-style piano bass line and, after multiple starts and stops, everyone helps establish the overall sequence of events of the final arrangement.

A piece of music created in this way was known as a “head arrangement.”

Happy Leap Day!

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