William “Count” Basie led an original group of musicians who rose to prominence in the late 1930s even as other great jazz ensembles led by Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson and Jimmie Lunceford were also in their prime. The band became one of the major influences on the jazz repertoire by featuring great soloists such as Lester Young, Buck Clayton, Herschel Evans and Harry “Sweets” Edison, along with the vocal tandem of Jimmy Rushing and Helen Humes and Basie’s own distinctive minimal-but-still-swinging piano style.
The Count Basie Orchestra has won 17 Grammy Awards and 20 Downbeat and Jazz Times polls, more than any other big band in history. Though Basie died in 1984, the band has continued to tour under the leadership of various directors, with trumpeter Scotty Barnhart now leading the group. Known as the “swingingest band in all the land,” it employs the accessible style Basie maintained throughout his career. The impeccable vocalist Carmen Bradford, hired by Basie himself in 1983, is back with the band after leaving for several years to pursue a solo career.
The Count Basie Orchestra performs at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday at the Sacramento City College Performing Arts Center, 3835 Freeport Blvd. The Harley White Jr. Orchestra opens the late show with a set at 6:15 p.m. Tickets are $30 general and $15 for students; get them at www.SLCworld.org.
The Full Christmas
If you’re looking an old-school Christmas experience, Nevada City can easily fit the bill. The foothill town has always had a throwback look to it, and for the holidays the locals like to get all Dickens with a Victorian Christmas celebration. On Sunday from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. there will carolers, foods, carriage rides and even Father Christmas.
LeGacy Productions is also presenting Jeffrey Mason’s adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” with Susan Mason directing at the Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad St., Nevada City, at 8 p.m. today and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; a Christmas Eve matinee will be at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18. Information: www.legacypresents.com , (530) 268-5419.
Sutter Street Theatre
Mike Jimena and Connie Mockenhaupt fill their “Holiday in the Hills” show with all kinds of local Folsom flavor through historical characters from the town’s past. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday, and 7 p.m. Monday. Tickets are $15-$23.
For kids, Sutter Street offers “A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail.” Allen Schmeltz directs with musical direction by Sharon Welling. 4 p.m. today and Dec. 27; 1 p.m. Saturday-Tuesday and Dec. 28-29. Sutter Street Theatre, 717 Sutter St., Folsom. Information: (916) 353-1001, www. sutterstreettheatre.com.