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April 29, 2018

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Todd Mason

Was Basie ever professionally a drummer? I have only been aware of him playing keyboards, mostly piano but also organ....going to Go Look...good stuff here...

Todd Mason

WIKIPEDIA has references to his memoirs where he notes he wanted to be a drummer till he saw how much better at drumming Sonny Greer was, when Basie was 15yo...so he concentrated on keyboards thereafter instead. Good to know...he certainly was often cited as the paragon of the percussive "arranger's pianist"...early inclination toward percussion would out thus, perhaps!

BV Lawson

Yes, Basie played and preferred the drums as a youngster, but switched over to the piano because he didn't think he'd ever be good enough on drums. I think he made the right decision! FYI, my grandfather played drums with Artie Shaw before Artie Shaw became a big thing. Wish he could have stayed with it, but Granddad had to make a regular living to take care of his family.

Todd Mason

And while the Artie Shaw band might've been a good paycheck eventually, Shaw further eventually preferred the writing of fiction to the playing of music before the public...though financial comfort never hurts when beginning one's fiction-writing career...

Todd Mason

Do you know of any Shaw band recordings with your grandfather playing?

BV Lawson

Well, the only thing that might exist are some records that were made at an amateur studio around that time that I came across while going through Mom and Pop's things. My husband is an audio engineer, so I'm hoping he'll be able to play these with his special gear so we can see what's actually on them. I don't know of any commercial recordings, alas. This was VERY early in Shaw's career before he hit the big time.

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