Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orch. – Rumba Negro, 1929
Bennie Moten (1894 –1935) was a jazz pianist and band leader born in Kansas City, Missouri. He led the Kansas City Orchestra, the most important blues-based orchestra active in the South West 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 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. They next recorded in 1926 for Victor In the more sophisticate style of Fletcher Henderson. By 1928 Moten’s piano was showing some Boogie Woogie influences, but the real revolution came in the early 1930s 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. In this time Ben Webster (tenor sax) and Jimmy Rushing (vocal) had also joined. Tragically Bennie Moten died in 1935 from a botched tonsillectomy operation. Buster Moten briefly took over the band, but many of its top members eventually gravitated towards Count Basie.
Recording: Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra – Rumba Negro, Victor 1929