Milestones: May 7, 1984

William ("Count") Basie: 1904-1984

The rotund man with the barrel chest and impeccable mustache would sit down at the piano, pop his fingers a couple of times to get the rhythm just right and, boom, his band would take off. Reeds and brasses would blast out in an ensemble sharp enough to shave with, trombones explosively punctuating the seductive murmurs of the saxophones. As the smoke cleared, there would be the piano, light and airy in the right hand, gentle in the left, keeping the whole thing together. "I'm only part of the rhythm section," William (''Count") Basie would say. "I'm...

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