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 typical 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. These 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 sophisticated style of Fletcher Henderson, but more often than not featured a hard stomp beat that was extremely popular in Kansas City. 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. Another boom to the band was adding James Rushing as their primary vocalist.
Their final session (10 recordings made at Victor's Camden, NJ studios on December 13, 1932, during a time when the band was suffering significant financial hardship) 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 become swing classics.
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!
Bennie Moten (Kansas City, Misuri, 13 de noviembre de 1894 - 2 de abril de 1935) fue un pianista, compositor y director de orquesta de jazz-swing.
Comenzó siendo aún niño, tocando el saxhorn en un grupo de metales de su ciudad natal. Profesionalmente se inició en 1918, al frente de un trio, que se convierte en sexteto hacia 1921. Con este grupo, realiza su primera grabación para Okeh, en 1923, y acompaña a diversas cantantes locales, como Ada Brown o Mary Bradford. Continuará realizando grabaciones de forma regular, hasta 1932, básicamente para el sello Victor, aunque para entonces el sexteto ya se había convertido en una big band. Uno de sus temas, «South», se convertirá en un verdadero best-seller (1928) y se realizarán versiones por grupos de mucho peso en la época, como las bandas de Kid Ory y Paul Whiteman. En la banda de Moten figuraron músicos como Walter Page, Count Basie, Hot Lips Page, Buster Smith o Jimmy Rushing, y, más tarde, a partir de 1931, Ben Webster, Herschell Evans y Lester Young.
Fue la banda de Moten la que estableció las bases de lo que se vino a llamar "estilo Kansas City", fundamentado en un uso extensivo de los riffs y del principio de origen africano conocido como "call and response", aplicado a los distintos grupos de la sección de viento: trompetas, trombones y saxofones, sobre un substrato de blues.1 Pianista modesto, muy influido por el ragtime, Moten se convierte en un director de big band formidable, con una firme voluntad de evolución y muy escasas concesiones comerciales,2 con arreglos originales de Eddie Durham, Eddie Barefield o el propio Basie, un sonido original y un típico "sonido en masa" combinado con excelentes solos individuales.