Above all, this band swings, swings from the rhythm section out, sets every figure with a moving beat and never lets a soloist down. Thats a lot to say of any band, but this is a lot of band. The rhythm section, of course, was the focal point of the band if only because it is responsible for most of the real excitement. Not counting out the Count, and the powerful rhythmic guitar of Freddie Green, the individual star here was drummer Gus Johnson, whose driving beat was exceptionally clean. The brass was almost as good as the rhythm, with such young talents as trumpeter Joe Newman and trombonists Benny Powell and Henry Coker. Marshall Royal, a talented veteran, led the excellent sax section, featuring tenorists Paul Quinichette, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, and even the great Lester Young is heard as a guest in the live performances.
In 1951 Count Basie began to build a new band. Though he had some veterans, most of the musicians were young and relatively unknown. Quietly but surely Basie molded the 16 men, changing personnel when he had to, until he had built a band of proper Basie stature, one which could hold its ground when compared with the remarkable outfit of 1936.