Happy birthday to that great big-band leader Count Basie. His preserve in the history of jazz is well-documented and much loved. From New Jersey, William James Basie got his start playing in the '20s in Harlem and the Jersey Shore before touring the Vaudeville circuit.
He moved to Kansas City in '29 to play with Benny Moten, eventually taking over the band. The group was a hit with the swinging Kansas City scene for many years. After a brief stay in Chicago the band moved to NYC in '37, joining the competitive big band action the city's scene was entertaining and becoming very popular.
His bands were seriously swinging and rhythmic, and featured great players like Papa Jo Jones, Lester Young, Harry James, Chu Berry, Don Byas, Buddy Rich, Oscar Peterson and the lost-to-time saxophonist Herschel Evans, as well as singers Jimmy Rushing, Helen Humes and Joe Williams.
In the '50s Basie had yet more success collaborating with Neil Hefti before submitting to trying to make jazz sense out of Beatles tunes in the '60s. He continued touring and recording as an elder statesman/jazz legend into the early '80s, even from his wheelchair.