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  • WDCH
  • Dec. 20, 2007
  • William H. Hughes Directs Orchestra in Deck the Hall Series Performance


    The Concert is Generously Sponsored by Smith Barney

    Jumpin’ and swingin’ with the rhythm of the season, The Count Basie Orchestra, conducted by William H. Hughes, delivers it’s big band sound to the Walt Disney Concert Hall stage for the first time as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Deck the Hall series, Thursday, December 20, at 8 p.m. Basie’s genius and talent live on as the Hall is filled with jazz settings of fan favorites such as “White Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland,” and “Let it Snow.”

    In line with the Kansas City feel, The Count Basie Orchestra has a long history of compelling audiences and staying on top of the jazz charts even as time and appreciation of the genre has changed. Although the “Count” passed away in the mid-1980’s, his band still goes strong with recordings and performances that can be heard all over the world, from intimate jazz clubs to ornate music festivals.
    Deck the Hall, presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, is a series of festive performances throughout the month of December (including two concerts on New Year's Eve) featuring an array of exceptional artists offering seasonal music. Remaining performances include Holiday Sing-Along, December 22, and Belinda Carlisle and Rufus Wainwright in Paris à Go-Go, December 31.

    THE COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA has redefined the art of jazz for over 70 years. In his 80-year life span, William “Count” Basie so expanded and elevated the art form that modern music connoisseurs around the world regard his legacy an “American Institution.” Yet the affable “Count” was a very modest gentleman. His motions and musical conversations at the piano closely paralleled his approach to life itself. Basie, a Red Bank, New Jersey native, grew up with the tempos of The Swing Era in New York City… live big bands were filling ballrooms with dance rhythms. But toward the close of the Roaring 20’s it was Kansas City that was drawing notice for Jazz, a new wave of “wide open” musical style! Young pianist “Bill Basie” landed there while working the national vaudeville circuit and briefly joined Walter Paige’s Blue Devils, then stayed on with The Benny Moten Orchestra. Jazz experts maintain that Basie at the keyboard signaled the beginning of the Moten band’s historical significance, starting with discs cut in 1932. With Benny Moten’s sudden death three years later, Basie went from pianist to bandleader. He took the name “The Count” when his new group headlined at Kansas City’s Reno Club in 1935. With a keyboard touch or two, sound was set into motion. Always swinging, his piano spots became the band’s claim to fame. A single “Plink, Plink, Plink” closing triplet was the “signature” his music needed. Despite half a century of changing tastes in popular music, the endurance of The Count Basie Orchestra confirms the genius of his earliest musical instincts. The Count Basie Orchestra of today is 18 performers committed to upholding and advancing this “American Institution.” Some members are new, yet the core of the sound still swings from musicians hand-picked by Count Basie himself. They are in demand for world tours and recordings, have won every respected jazz poll in the world at least once, and continue to accumulate awards and special recognitions.

    WILLIAM H. HUGHES joined the Count Basie Orchestra in September 1953, at the recommendation of the legendary saxophonist/flutist Frank Wess. A 1952 graduate of Howard University School of Pharmacy and self-taught trombonist, Hughes previously performed with Wess in various groups as well as in a house band led by Wess at the world famous Howard Theater in Washington, DC. It was at that same time Hughes was invited to join the Duke Ellington Orchestra, but chose Basie where he could play with friends like Wess, Eddie Jones, and Benny Powell. Hughes played tenor trombone in a three-man section, which included Henry Coker and Powell. This section was at one time acclaimed as the best trombone section in jazz and their names appeared in several polls then popular in jazz magazines. During this period, Hughes traveled the world with Basie, including the very first trip to Europe for the orchestra. It was also during this time period Basie was to record several of his timeless hits including “Shiny Stockings,” “Corner Pocket” and the famous rendition of the classic “April In Paris.” Hughes has played at every major jazz festival in the world including The Newport Jazz Festival, Montreux festival, the Jazz and Heritage Festival of New Orleans and many more. In addition to the numerous recordings with Count Basie and The Count Basie Orchestra - including 15 of the 18 Grammy-winning recordings - Hughes has recorded and performed with such luminaries as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Tony Bennett, Billy Eckstine, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Lena Horne, Nat “King” Cole and Rosemary Clooney.


    THURSDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2007, at 8PM
    WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL, 111 S. Grand Ave, Los Angeles

    The Count Basie Orchestra
    William H. Hughes, director

    Program includes:
    Have a Swinging Christmas
    White Christmas
    Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
    Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
    Winter Wonderland
    Sleigh Ride
    I'll be Home for Christmas
    The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
    Jingle Bells
    Let It Snow

    The Concert is generously sponsored by Smith Barney.

    Tickets ($27-$79) are on sale now at the Walt Disney Concert Hall Box Office, online at, or via credit card phone order at 323.850.2000. A limited number of $10 rush tickets for seniors and full-time students may be available at the Walt Disney Concert Hall Box Office two hours prior to the performance. Valid identification is required; one ticket per person; cash only. Groups of 10 or more may be eligible for special discounts for selected concerts and seating areas. Tickets make great gifts! For information, please call 323.850.2000.

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  • Contact:

    Adam Crane, 213.972.3422,; Lisa White, 213.972.3408,; Leah Price, 213. 972.3406,; For photos: 213.972.3034