It's not every day a jazz legend has a centennial birthday, so get ready for a swingin' summer party in Count Basie's honor.
The jazz piano master would have turned 100 on Saturday and Carson City will host his birthday bash: a free, three-day outdoor jazz festival starting Friday to celebrate Basie's life and work.
Get out your cool sunglasses and practice your finger-snapping. The festival will feature big-band concerts, jazz combos, a piano summit, jam sessions, talks and a special exhibit on Basie and the role of jazz in American life.
"Count Basie really put his stamp on his music," said Scott Faulkner, string bass player and executive director of the Reno Chamber Orchestra. "He performed at a high level for 50 years and he had very high standards."
Faulkner will kick off celebrations tonight at the Brewery Arts Center with a talk about Basie's life and musical career. It is free and open to the public.
"He had a groove to his music and a rhythmic propulsion you just have to tap your foot to," he said.
The project started with the idea of the Mile High Jazz Band presenting a single concert on Basie's 100th birthday, said David Bugli, event co-producer.
"When we realized how much jazz talent there is in this area, we expanded the scope to include two more days, more events, more groups and more soloists," he said.
Incredibly influential in the jazz world during the swing era, Basie's piano-playing style was highly focused on the blues, relying on simple melodic phrases.
In 1936, Basie founded the Count Basie Orchestra, which featured players like Lester Young and Jo Jones. The orchestra became one of the most popular jazz ensembles in the world, with big hits like "One O'clock Jump" and "Jumpin' at the Woodside."
The "Basie at 100" celebration will feature performances by the Reno Jazz Orchestra, the Mile High Jazz Band, the Tony Cataldo Quartet, Brad Lund Trio, Reno Exchange Jazz Vocal Ensemble, Millennium Bugs and other local jazz musicians.
"(Basie) was an exciting and influential band leader and person," event co-producer Elinor Bugli said. "What better way to honor him than with music?"
The concert is on Carson City's mobile stage Friday through Sunday on Minnesota Street at the Brewery Arts Center. In the event of rain, performances will be moved inside.
Faulkner will give his talk tonight at 7:30 at the Brewery Arts Center Performance Hall, 511 W. King St.
If You Go
Presentation on Count Basie's life and career
When: 7:30 tonight
Brewery Arts Center Performance Hall, 511 W. King St..