Origins is our recurring series that gives artists a space to break down everything that went into their latest release. Today, Lettuce takes through their new tribute to Count Basie, “Didn’t You,” featuring Talib Kweli.
Jazz-funk fusioneers Lettuce have teamed up with Talib Kweli for new single “Didn’t You,” an homage to jazz pioneer Count Basie. The single comes from an upcoming collaborative album titled Late Night Basie (out April 7th), which features an eclectic group of artists merging modern influences with Basie classics.
Basie’s slick jazz redefined the boundaries of popular music, inspiring generations of musicians. “Paying respect to a legend as grand as Count Basie is an honor,” drummer Adam Deitch tells Consequence. “When Eric Bloom and I sat at my upright piano in my living room to create an arrangement for ‘Didn’t You,’ we decided to give it an almost sultry, relaxed, and elegant feeling.”
Lettuce have spent over two decades refining an effortless blend of jazz and funk, which they put to good use on “Didn’t You.” The track, originally released on Basie’s best-selling 1957 album April in Paris, is a funky new iteration and features Lettuce placing a heavy emphasis on the saxophone layered over a bouncing bass drum matched with Kweli’s infectious flow.
“Man, the Count Basie sound crazy/ Providing inspiration for all the Black and brown babies,” Kweli raps. “Piano lessons for 25 cents a session/ Got him counting all their blessings while he fattened up the rhythm section.”
Check out the music video for “Didn’t You” below to get a first preview of Late Night Basie, which features artists like Terrence Blanchard, Nicholas Payton, and Cimafunk, before its April 7th release. Then, check out Lettuce’s breakdown of the Origins of their rendition.
Late Night Basie Artwork:
Late Night Basie Tracklist:
01. Didn’t You – Lettuce (feat. Talib Kweli)
02. One O’Clock Jump – The Count Basie Orchestra (feat. Jazzmeia Horn and Ray Angry)
03. Blue & Sentimental – Larkin Poe (feat. Will Lee & Shawn Pelton)
04. M-Squad – The Count Basie Orchestra (feat. Terence Blanchard)
05. Jumpin’ at the Woodside – The Count Basie Orchestra (feat. Jimmy Vivino and Ray Angry)
06. St. Thomas – The Soul Rebels (feat. Nicholas Payton, Cimafunk & Weedie Braimah)
07. One O’Clock Jump (Bonus track) – Danny Jonokuchi & The Revisionists
Nas’ “One Love”:
Paying respect to a legend as grand as Count Basie is an honor. When Eric Bloom and I sat at my upright piano in my living room to create an arrangement for “Didn’t You,” we decided to give it an almost sultry, relaxed, and elegant feeling.
The groove was inspired by the feel of hip-hop (Nas’ “One Love”) which set the foundation for Bloom and Zoidis’ beautiful layered horn arrangement. The bassline by Jesus really gave the arrangement the modern low-end feel that complimented the tune so nicely.
Talib, a master wordsmith, recorded a very descriptive and educational verse that encapsulated the feel of the song, transporting the listener into a combination of both the swing era and modern times. — Adam Deitch
When I was playing the bass for the Count Basie tribute, I had the sound of the ocean waves crashing behind me and the scent of cedar wood burning in the room. These sounds and aromas brought me to a place of tranquility that allowed me to tap into the essence of the pocket that we were trying to achieve.
It also set the tone for spirituality to remain steadfast in hip-hop. (A powerful unifying tool that can bring healing culture to communities regardless of the parasites infusing it with poison). My six-string bass was able to send the frequency of love directly into the track, which helps it retain the power on the lower end of the spectrum and balances out the high end. — Erick “Jesus” Coomes
Big band music:
When Adam Deitch asked me to help choose a Count Basie song to “flip,” I almost lost my mind! As a trumpet player, I am a major fan of big band music, especially Count Basie‘s whole catalog. He is one of the original creators of Black American Music and I have been listening to his April in Paris record, (where the original version of “Didn’t You” comes from), since I was 15.
The “A” section of the original song starts off with the sax section arranged in a beautiful block chord voicing that shifts with the chord changes in a light & relaxed way. I wanted to re-create that same aesthetic but also have Ryan Zoidis and my personality shine through with the way we phrased the melody.
As for the bridge, I wanted to thin out the melody and take a slight departure from the way the original song went, and add a happier attitude to it. I can safely say that we are all very happy with the way this song came out and are very thankful to be included in this project! — Eric “Benny” Bloom