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One O'clock Jump (1938)

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Origin and Chart Information

The landmark 1938 Carnegie Hall appearance of Benny Goodman’s Orchestra was the setting for a fine performance of Count Basie’s theme song. Pianist Jess Stacy gets a nice bit up front, and leader Goodman stretches out on the clarinet.

- Chris Tyle

Rank 175
Words and Music Count Basie

Count Basie and his band recorded “One O’clock Jump” on their first recording session for Decca Records on January 21, 1937. The recording was an immediate hit for Basie and the first for the group following their arrival in New York City. The song made the charts several times in the years that followed:

  • Count Basie and His Orchestra (1937, #15)
  • Harry James and His Orchestra (1938, #7)
  • Benny Goodman and His Orchestra (1938, #8)
  • Metronome All-Star Band (1941, #13)
  • Count Basie and His Orchestra (1947, #12)

Chart information used by permission from
Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954

William “Count” Basie formed his first band, Basie’s Barons of Swing, in Kansas City in 1935. A veteran of the popular Kansas City band led by Bennie Moten, Basie assembled his first group following Moten’s death, utilizing a number of Moten’s sidemen. The band soon found steady employment at K.C.’s Reno Club. In the excellent book Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop--A History by Frank Driggs and Chuck Haddix, the authors quote a 1936 Downbeat article written by Dave Dexter, who described an evening at the Reno. Dexter’s opinion of the band was that it “needed seasoning” but had a lot to offer. He wasn’t so keen on the Reno, which he described as “a dive” and “one of the town’s most unsavory holes.”


More on Count Basie at JazzBiographies.com

Nevertheless, an advantage of the Reno was a connection to experimental radio station W9XBY, which broadcast the band live from the club. One night the band played a riff tune based on a 12-bar blues, which had been “arranged” by Basie and alto saxophonist Buster Smith. It was titled “Blue Balls.” The radio announcer asked if the band would play the tune but said he couldn’t use that title on the air. He suggested, since it was nearing one a.m., “One O’clock Jump.” The title stuck, and not only did the now-forgotten announcer dream up the tune’s title, he was the first to call Basie “Count.”

Due to these radio broadcasts the band was heard throughout the country, and efforts by fans like promoter John Hammond and writer Dave Dexter started the ball rolling for the group’s eventual trip to New York and stardom. Although alto saxophonist Buster Smith had been an integral part of the band and creator of many of the band’s arrangements, he stayed in Kansas City, missing out on the chance of a lifetime and composer credit for “One O’clock Jump.”

Basie adopted the tune for his theme song, and the earliest recorded radio performance of the band, a broadcast from June 1937, closes with the tune. The number spawned two follow-up arrangements: “Two O’clock Jump,” recorded by Harry James in 1939, and the “One O’clock Boogie” which Basie recorded in 1947 and which hit the charts that year.

In 1945 Lee Gaines, a vocalist in with the Delta Rhythm Boys, wrote lyrics to Basie’s tune, one of the earliest examples of what has come to be known as “vocalese,” words sung to what were the originally improvised jazz solos.

Chris Tyle - Jazz Musician and Historian

Recommendations for This Tune
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Count Basie
Jazz Signatures - One O'Clock Jump: Very B.O.
Original Recording 1937

This is the original version of “One O’ Clock Jump” and is one of the most timeless recordings of the swing era, hands down. Basie’s playing shines and the twin tenor saxophones of Herschel Evans and Lester Young are particularly memorable, though this is a full group effort.

Count Basie & His Orchestra
America's #1 Band
Original Recording 1950

Count Basie’s piano is prominent at the start of this hard-swinging octet performance, as it is on the original version. In this case, though, the featured soloists are clarinetist Buddy DeFranco and tenor saxophonist Wardell Gray, while Clark Terry contributes mightily as an ensemble player.

Lester Young
Comp Lester Young Studio Session on Verve
Polygram Records
Original Recording 1954

A featured soloist on the original recording, tenor saxophonist Young re-examines “One O’ Clock Jump” at a faster tempo. His playing is creative and laid back, and trumpeter Harry “Sweets” Edison, pianist Oscar Peterson and drummer Buddy Rich are featured as well.

Count Basie
At Newport Live
Original Recording 1957

This extended jam vehicle features a mix of current and former Basie band members and special guests. Aside from Basie, featured players include saxophonists Lester Young and Illinois Jacquet, trumpeter Roy Eldridge and drummer “Papa” Jo Jones.

Red Garland
At the Prelude
Original Recording 1959

Garland’s trio offers three set-ending interpretations of “One O’ Clock Jump” on this set, with a bright yet relaxed swing groove and some extremely tasty piano soloing by Garland.


- Noah Baerman

Lambert, Hendricks & Ross
Sing a Song of Basie
2001 Verve 112
Original recording 1958
All three singers share the spotlight on this rendition that vocally recreates the instrumental solos of the band. Jon Hendricks wrote the lyrics, and the singers spent hours multi-taping their parts. The album was and remains a landmark of vocalese.
Jimmy Smith
Midnight Special
1989 Blue Note 84078
Original recording 1960
Organist Smith slows the pace down significantly for this bluesy swing version that features some engaging saxophone play from Stanley Turrentine.
Ray Bryant Trio
1997 Original Jazz Classics 936
Original recording 1980
A rousing bop reading of the song has Bryant practically bouncing on the piano bench as bassist Jimmy Rowser and drummer Mickey Roker drive the tempo.

- Ben Maycock

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