Bennie Moten États-Unis Bennie Moten (November 13, 1894 ? April 2, 1935) was a noted American jazz pianist and band leader born in Kansas City, Missouri.
He led the Kansas City Orchestra, the most important of the itinerant, blues-based orchestras active in the Midwest in the 1920s, and helped to develop the riffing style that would come to define many of the 1930s Big Bands.
His first recordings were made (for OKeh Records) in 1923, and were rather stiff interpretations of the New Orleans style of King Oliver and others. They also showed the influence of the Ragtime that was still popular in the area. His OKeh sides (recorded 1923-1925) are some of the more valuable acoustic jazz 78's of the era and continue to be treasured records in many serious jazz collections.
They next recorded in 1926 for Victor Records in New Jersey, and were influenced by the more sophisticate style of Fletcher Henderson, but more often than not featured a hard stomp beat that was extremely popular. Moten remained one of Victor's most popular orchestras through 1930.
By 1928 Moten's piano was showing some Boogie Woogie influences, but the real revolution came in 1929 when he recruited Count Basie, Walter Page and Oran 'Hot Lips' Page. Walter Page's walking bass lines gave the music an entirely new feel compared to the 2/4 tuba of his predecessor Vernon Page, coloured by Basie's understated, syncopated piano fills.
Their final session (10 recordings made December 13, 1932, during a time of significant hard-ship for the band) showed the early stages of what would become known as the 'Basie sound'; four years before Basie would record under his own name. By this time Ben Webster and Jimmy Rushing had joined Moten's band, but Moten himself does not play on these sessions. These sides include a number of tunes that would later became swing classics:
'The Blue Room'
'Imagination' (vocals: Sterling Russell Trio)
'New Orleans' (vocal: James Rushing)
'The Only Girl I Ever Loved' (vocals: Sterling Russell Trio)
'Prince of Wails'
'Two Times' (recorded with six musicians and with vocalist Josephine Garrison)
After Moten's death in 1935 after an unsuccessful tonsillectomy, Basie took many of the leading musicians from the band to form his own orchestra.
Moten's popular 1928 recording of 'South' (V-38021) stayed in Victor's catalog over the years (reissued as 24893 in 1935 as Victor phased out any remaining V-38000 series that were still in the catalog) and became a big jukebox hit in the late 1940s (by then, reissued as 44-0004). It remained in print (as a vinyl 45) until RCA stopping making vinyl records!