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Count Basie

Count Basie (pianist; born August 21, 1906, Red Bank, NJ; died April 26, 1984) Count Basie rose from humble beginnings playing in Harlem nightclubs to become one of the most exciting piano players and big band leaders of our time. He became known as the "jump king" in his early days and went on to excite audiences all over the world for more than four decades. Both of Basie's parents were amateur musicians. His father played the E-flat horn, and his mother, a piano player, taught her son, born William, to play the instrument that would make him famous. In a school band, Count played the drums, but was discouraged when another boy played better than him, so he decided to try his hand at the piano.