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Behind the BeatOne O'Clock Jump by Count Basie
One O'Clock Jump by Count Basie, Nine special recordings that stood out PBS: One O'Clock Jump Album Cover
Other Recording Spotlights
One O'Clock Jump

By Loren Schoenberg, Conductor and Saxophonist

Written by: W. Basie
Performed by: Count Basie and His Orchestra: Buck Clayton, Ed Lewis, Bobby Moore, trumpet; George Hunt, Dan Minor, trombone; Earl Warren, Jack Washington, alto saxophone; Herschel Evans, Lester Young, tenor saxophone, Count Basie, piano; Freddie Green, guitar; Walter Page, bass; Jo Jones, drums, Eddie Durham, Buster Smith, arrangers
Recorded: July 7, 1937

Audio sampleOne O'Clock Jump
Recorded 1937
(Courtesy Verve Music Group)

Although Count Basie rarely, if ever, sat down with pencil in hand to compose a jazz score, he was nonetheless a gifted jazz composer. As far back as his years with the Walter Page and Bennie Moten bands, he had an abundance of good ideas that were translated into arrangements by such talented composers as Eddie Durham. Basie was also a master at editing the work of others, and knew precisely how to prune anything that he deemed to be musically superfluous.

His theme song, One O'Clock Jump, began as a hodgepodge of well-known riffs organized by Buster Smith and Eddie Durham. There are many broadcast versions of it recorded from the 1930s and 40s where you can hear the band adding and subtracting ideas, and other bands (Benny Goodman, Harry James and Duke Ellington) recorded their own versions as well.

This original recording remains the standard by which all subsequent versions must be judged, however. With its classic solos by tenormen Herschel Evans and Lester Young, trombonist George "Rabbit" Hunt, trumpeter Buck Clayton and bassist Walter Page, and its rolling riffs, it captures the intimacy and swing of Kansas City jazz at its best.

As Albert Murray wrote in Stompin' The Blues: "In actual performance, jump music, as in One O'Clock Jump, is indistinguishable from a stomp, as in Panassie Stomp, or swing, as in Moten Swing. The dance steps are different, of course, but even so, one can jump to a stomp and swing; stomp to a jump and swing; or swing to a jump and a stomp."