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Book: Kansas City Jazz

Chapter: From Bennie to Basie

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.42623


The Moten band breaks up following his death in 1935 in a botched surgery, and the musicians he employed foundered for a time; Bennie’s nephew Ira “Bus” Moten tries to keep the band together, but Bill Basie attracts many of them to follow him. His group slowly grows by accretion and its music is spread by late-night radio station broadcasts from the night club where he secures a steady engagement. Basie attracts drummer Jo Jones and tenor sax Lester Young, and a wealthy young East Coast heir named John Hammond becomes a critical and financial supporter when he hears the band on a radio broadcast in Chicago, and by the fall of 1936 they are ready to take their sound to the national stage with a tour of the East coast.

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