William James Basie was born on August 21st 1904. Count Basie was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer who was taught to play the piano by his mother.

Although jazz enthusiasts most commonly associate Count Basie with Kansas City, where he formed his first band and first made a name for himself, he was in fact a New Jersey native, born in his parent’s house on Mechanic Street. He started performing in his teens, dropped out of school, and subsequently learned to operate lights for vaudeville and to improvise accompaniment for silent films at a local movie theater in his home town of Red Bank.

Through his compositions, live performances, and recordings, Count Basie left an influential body of work and has introduced several generations of listeners to the Big Band sound.

“I think the band can really swing when it swings easy, when it can just play along like you are cutting butter.”  — Count Basie

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