Wednesday, July 28, 2010

“Blues in Hoss’ Flat” by Count Basie

Frank Foster’s magnificent “Blues in Hoss’ Flat” was written for Count Basie and performed on the 1958 Roulette Jazz album Chairman of the Board. Basie is accompanied beautifully on this March 28, 1958, recording by Thad Jones, Snooky Young, Wendell Culley and Joe Newman on trumpet, Henry Coker, Al Grey and Benny Powell on trombone, Marshal Royal on clarinet/alto sax, the composer on alto sax/flute, Billy Mitchell and Frank Foster on tenor sax, Charlie Fowlkes on baritone sax, Freddie Green on guitar, Eddie Jones on bass and Sonny Payne on drums.

The tune, also known as “Blues in Frankie’s Flat,” was played (and recorded) by Basie throughout his career and has also been recorded by Sammy Davis, Jr. (with Count Basie), Duke Ellington (with Count Basie), Stanley Turrentine and Gene Harris.

But it never sounded as beautiful as it did in its original incarnation, which Jerry Lewis brilliantly used in a scene from his 1961 film The Errand Boy. Lewis, as can be seen, lip synchs the horn parts (and solos) in an absolutely hilarious effort to pretend he’s an executive running a meeting.

Family Guy replicated this scene – and Basie’s original – for an episode of the program. Perhaps the scene went on longer than the show allowed or the reference was so obscure (though William Shatner’s “Rocket Man” was kept!) that it was deleted from the episode it was intended for.

It finally appeared as an outtake in the show’s controversial 150th episode, “Brian & Stewie,” which first aired on May 2, 2010. Peter Griffin’s performance so closely replicates Lewis’s original that some talented video editor out there synched the two performances up on YouTube and created a hilarious tribute (you'll have to double click on the video to experience it in its full view).

It’s a total gas and it is presented here for your entertainment (Lewis is remarkably funny) and enjoyment. “Blues” truly is one of the greats from the golden age of big-band jazz.


Unknown said...

A great piece of music and a great album. I still have it (from my father's collection). I remember as a kid trying to figure out who the guys were on the cover (other than Basie himself). Now I know. There is a great live performance posted on youtube.

Minor issue: you juxtapose Frank Wess (tenor sax & flute) and Frank Foster in your notes.

Unknown said...

Forgot to mention that Frank Wess also played second alto in that band.

Ray Swoope, Sr. said...

My Pop used to play this song all the time when I was a kid so it is a part of me. When Pop passed last year at 86, I dedicated it to him. It's loaded on my IPad & everytime I hear it, I think of Pop & Mom & those happy years. One of the All-time Greats!!!

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