The following year, Basie became the pianist with the Bennie Moten band based in Kansas City, inspired by Moten’s ambition to raise his band to the level of Duke Ellington’s or Fletcher Henderson’s.[ Where the Blue Devils were “snappier” and more “bluesy,” the Moten band was classier and more respected, and played in the “Kansas City stomp” style. In addition to playing piano, Basie was co-arranger with Eddie Durham, who actually did the notating. During a stay in Chicago, Basie recorded with the band. He occasionally played four-hand piano and dual pianos with Moten, who also conducted. The band improved with several personnel changes, including the addition of tenor saxophonist Ben Webster.
When the band voted Moten out, Basie took over for several months as Count Basie and his Cherry Blossoms until the band folded, when he returned to Moten’s newly re-organized band. When Moten died in 1935 after a surgical procedure, the band unsuccessfully attempted to stay together. Then Basie formed a new band, which included many Moten alumni, with the important addition of tenor player Lester Young. They played at the Reno Club and sometimes were broadcast on local radio. Late one night with time to fill, the band started improvising. Basie liked the results and named the piece “One O’Clock Jump.” According to Basie, “we hit it with the rhythm section and went into the riffs, and the riffs just stuck. We set the thing up front in D-flat, and then we just went on playing in F.” It became his signature tune.