Über Count Basie
Setting the stage with just a 'plunk' or two from his piano, Count Basie's big band in the '30s swung harder than any other, giving the world such talents as Lester Young, Buck Clayton and "Sweets" Edison. That trio, along with the Count himself, created a freewheeling beast featuring sizzling improvs and solos. Basie's 'Testament' bands of the '50s operated like soulful, well-oiled machines, and were reliant on arrangers like Neal Hefti, Quincy Jones and Frank Foster. The vocal platform was perfectly suited to Basie's '50s sound -- he had great success with superstar singers Joe Williams, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald.