Community radio gets the scoop with Count Basie Orchestra band leader

2RRR’s Brian Crabbe interviews Scotty Barhnart about the legendary group.

Formed in 1935, the Count Basie Orchestra was one of the best known Big Bands of the 1930s and 1940s, popular world-wide.  

While most of the other bands folded at the end of the 1940s, the Count Basie Orchestra continued.   

Attesting to the esteem in which the band was held, in the 1950s and 60s they performed and recorded with some of the best known vocalists of that era, including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstein, Sarah Vaughan, Sammy Davis Jr, and the Mills Brothers.   

Count Basie himself died in 1984, but under a succession of dedicated leaders since then, the band continues to this day and is coming to Australia in early August for a series of concerts. They also have a new album to be released in September.

Scotty Barnhart is the current leader, appointed in 2013, tasked with carrying on the important legacy. But in addition to that role, between exhausting world tours and recording dates, Scotty is also a Professor of Music at Florida State University.

He took time out last week to speak by phone to Brian Crabbe at the Ryde-Hunters Hill community radio station in Sydney, 2RRR.   

Brian presents a program called “There goes that song again”, featuring popular music of the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Brian also has academic links, having come to community radio in retirement after a long University career.

Within their conversation, Brian asked Scotty about the elements that made the original band unique, and that contribute to its continuing success today.   

Listeners will be able to hear that interview, as well some of the band’s best known early recordings, some of their most recent recordings, and some with the great vocalists of the 1950s and 60s.  

It will be broadcast as a one-hour Special on 2RRR, 88.5FM and streamed on the web at at 3pm on Tuesday, 3rd July, repeated at 11am on Friday, 6th July.

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