By Eric J. Grimm




Acclaimed saxophonists Peter and Will Anderson take on the music of Count Basie and Duke Ellington in their new show The Count Meets the Duke, now playing at 59E59 Theaters. The polished evening of jazz classics from the form’s most famous bandleaders showcases the duo’s impressive woodwind skills and commitment to jazz education. The small black box is a peculiar setting for a jazz concert but the brothers and their experienced band are captivating enough to command any venue.


The Andersons capably balance musical numbers with well-curated film clips and stories about Basie and Ellington. The concert breezes by as the brothers and company play through a selection of tunes that feels far from obvious. Basie tunes like “Tickle Toe” and the lively “Midgets” alongside romantic and challenging compositions from Ellington such as the eastern-influenced “Ad Lib on Nippon” and “Single Petal From a Rose,” which was written for Queen Elizabeth II, serve to delight jazz fans and those who simply appreciate well-constructed music. The brothers wisely end the evening with a Basie and Ellington collaboration, having given a solid sense of what the two greats accomplished in their careers.


The brothers are terrifically in sync with each other throughout each number. The blending of Will Anderson’s chipper alto sax with Peter Anderson’s low and sensual tenor sax is spot on as they tackle a variety of different themes from the composers’ oeuvres. Clovis Nicolas and Phil Stewart, on the bass and drums respectively, shine in solo moments peppered throughout the show. Tardo Hammer, Annie Ross’s pianist, subbed for credited pianist Jeb Patton during the reviewed performance; the seasoned player claimed he was having an off night before nailing a solo performance of “Sophisticated Lady.” The strong showing from all band members makes for an evening of expertly played music and priced at $25 per ticket, it’s a considerable bargain.

*Photos: Eileen O’Donnell


The Count Meets the Duke plays at 59E59 Theaters (59 E. 59th St.) through January 3rd. For tickets, visit http://www.59e59.org/moreinfo.php?showid=228.