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Count Basie

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American pianist and composer Count Basie, born this day in 1904, was one of the outstanding organizers of big bands in jazz history. Stranded in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1927, Basie remained there and eventually (in 1935) assumed the leadership of a nine-piece band. One night, while the band was broadcasting on a shortwave radio station in Kansas City, he was dubbed “Count” Basie by a radio announcer who wanted to indicate his standing in a class with aristocrats of jazz such as Duke Ellington. Jazz critic and record producer John Hammond heard the broadcasts and promptly launched Basie's band on its career.