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Big Band Music Information  
Big Band Musician Biographies, Links
And Historic Jazz Magazine Articles

Big Band Battle Of Swing

A much heralded Battle of Swing took place Sunday night January, 16th at Harlem's Savoy ballroom. The event drew record crowds of big band fans and swing dancers.

•  Read the entire 1938 article

The Jimmie Lunceford big band in the late 1930s. At far left is Sy Oliver
Big Band Music Leader Biographies & Links
Big Band Radio Audio
The live feed of our weekly jazz radio show piping through the Internet via the audio player of your choice. It swings, it grooves, it jumps, it moves. Stringent RIAA and FCC regulations now prohibit complimentary water.

Our Jazz Radio Show Info Page
The sordid history of our weekly big band music radio show, live since 1985. Proves that FCC radio deregulation survival may be linked to narcissistically twisted disorders.

Pre Swing Era Jazz History
Early hot jazz bands, the hotel dance bands and early jazz history leading up to the Big Band era.

Pre Swing Era World Report
The role of economics, early recording technology, and radio relative to the conception of the Big Band era.

The Recording Ban Of 1942
Scans of a 1942 Down Beat magazine article detailing one of the most devastating events of the Big Band era; the James Petrillo / AFM recording ban.

Webb Cuts Basie At The Savoy
Another of the many historic jazz magazine articles from Down Beat here on the site. This piece details the Count Basie vs. Chick Webb big band music Battle Of Swing held at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom in January of 1938.

* = Swingmusic.net biography available by following the link
Henry Red Allen *
Ray Anthony *
Louis Armstrong *
Harry Arnold *
Georgie Auld *
Charlie Barnet *
Count Basie *
Bunny Berigan *
David Berger *
The Big 18 *
Claude Bolling *
Johnny Bothwell
Buddy Bregman
Will Bradle
Les Brown
Willie Bryant
Billy Butterfield

Capp-Pierce Juggernaut
Una Mae Carlisle
Benny Carter *
Cab Calloway
Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
Bob Crosby
Larry Clinton
Al Cooper
Eddie DeLange
Sam Donahue

Tommy Dorsey *
Jimmy Dorsey
Duke Ellington
Bill Elliott
Ziggy Elman
Shep Fields
Ralph Flanagan

George Gee
Terry Gibbs
Dizzy Gillespie

Benny Goodman
Glen Gray *
Lionel Hampton
Coleman Hawkins
Erskine Hawkins
Ted Heath

Fletcher Henderson
Horace Henderson
Woody Herman
Earl Hines
Claude Hopkins
Dean Hudson
Will Hudson
Int. Sweethearts Of Rhythm
Illinois Jacquet *
Harry James
Buddy Johnson
Quincy Jones
Stan Kenton
Andy Kirk
Gene Krupa

Elliot Lawrence
Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra
Jimmy Lunceford *
Henry Mancini
Billy May *
Hal McIntyre
Ray McKinley *
Jay McShann *
Metronome All Stars

Lucky Millinder
Eddie Miller

Glenn Miller
Mills Blue Rhythm Band

Dean Mora
Jimmy Mundy Orchestra
Oliver Nelson
Red Norvo

Sy Oliver
Oran Hot Lips Page
Teddy Powell
Perez Prado
Boyd Raeburn
Don Redman

Eddie Reed
Buddy Rich
Nelson Riddle

Shorty Rogers
Pete Rugalo
Jan Savitt

Artie Shaw *
Bobby Sherwood
Earle Spencer
Charlie Spivak
Savoy Sultans

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Ork
Earle Spencer Orchestra
Claude Thornhill

Chick Webb
Paul Weston
Cootie Williams
Ernie Wilkins
Gerald Wilson
Teddy Wilson
Si Zentner *
About This Page

The list of big bands and big bandleaders at right spans over 70 years of recorded jazz history, roughly from 1935 to the present day. During the Big Band era there were many territorial bands and sweet bands that played a more commercial brand of dance music. Many of these bands are not included here due to the absence of improvisation or jazz influence in their repertoire.

The historic jazz magazine articles below are taken from two of the best information sources that tracked the big bands during the Swing era; Metronome magazine and Down Beat magazine. Metronome provided informative, straight-forward articles about the big bands and their recordings. Down Beat covered jazz and big band music, adding a modicum of pizazz and leggy shots of female Big Band era vocalists.

During the Big Band era several other magazines devoted to big band music came and went. Few were as interesting as Down Beat and Metronome magazines.

Before big band swing music swept the nation, record sales were at all-time lows. Receipts picked up in 1937 and then really took off, spurred in part by a swing music craze. The advent of the jukebox and the invention's placement everywhere from speakeasies, to ice cream parlors and drug stores helped. Swing was in and the record companies rushed in to capitalize.
6-1-1938 DownBeat Magazine
9-1-1939 DownBeat Magazine
DownBeat magazine was great at providing breaking news about the big bands and jazz. Occasionally, they got a little ahead of the facts. Case in point, Lionel Hampton had been making big band swing sides with a variety of all-star groups under his own name for RCA almost since his integration into the Benny Goodman outfit in 1936 but it wasn't until 1940 that he left to front his own band. Wilson did not leave the Goodman aggregation until the spring of 1939 to form his own very good, but short lived, orchestra. Once the two finally did go their separate ways, Teddy Wilson recorded with his own outfit on Brunswick and Vocalian, both subsidiaries of Columbia Records. Lionel Hampton recorded for RCA's budget label, Bluebird.
By 1939 leading a big band had become a big business. Artie Shaw was outspoken in his contempt for the business of music and the control the labels excerted over a band's repertoire.

Here, Columbia executives nix plans of raising Goodman discs to 50 cents. At this time Artie Shaw was broadcasting from the Lincoln and Pennsylvania hotels in NYC. In November he quit the music business for a respit in Mexico, soon to return and form another big band. He was one of the few to edge Goodman in the swing category of Down Beat's yearly poll during the Big Band era. PR men called them, King Of Swing and King Of The Clarinet, the latter a label Shaw detested.

9-1-1939 DownBeat Magazine
One of the great star Jazz soloists on tenor saxophone Coleman Hawkins
6-1-1938 DownBeat Magazine
Up until the early 1940s big band music played in the swing style, also known as hot was king over "sweet" music. Later, due in part to the success of the Glenn Miller band, public tastes began to sway toward a sweeter big band music style.
Carving or cutting contests between jazz musicians took place often during the Big Band era. Several battles were waged between the tenor saxophone giants known as Bean (Coleman Hawkins) and Prez (Lester Young.) Accounts of other battles favor Lester Young.
The two had much different styles; Hawkins had a deep, robust sound and Lester Young had a light, lilting style, almost making his tenor sound like an alto. Both innovators influenced many stars to come like Stan Getz, Illinois Jacquet, and Zoot Simms.
One of the great big bandleaders Tommy Dorsey
Although this particular crowd at the Paramount theatre may have liked Tommy Dorsey's big band, the Dorsey aggregation was no match for Goodman's in national polls. Some venues like the Lincoln and Pennsylvania were noted for crowds that preferred big band swing.
September Of 1937 Metronome Magazine News Flash
Sy Oliver left Jimmie Lunceford and joined the Dorsey fold in 1939. The sound of the band was improved immediately with Oliver's arrangements, playing, and vocals. Even so, DownBeat readers still favored the big bands of Goodman, Shaw and Ellington.
Big Band Era DownBeat Ad
With the popularity of big band swing came the opportunity for many companies to market products appealing to everyone from dancers and phonograph owners, to band-leaders and side men. This ad is obviously aimed at the many band-leaders that kept up on the latest jazz news in Down Beat.
Big Bandleaders with style buy Angelica Big Band uniforms
Reading the pages of vintage Down Beat and Metronome magazines one is struck with the revelation that looks were everything. The female vocalists Down Beat depicted were seen striking alluring poses and the mention of how good a big band-leader looked seems almost as important as his or her musical abilities. Similarly, the showmanship of a big band sometimes gave it that added appeal. Jimmy Lunceford and Glenn Miller were among those that choreographed some of their big band musician's movements, often in unison, for added effect. The importance of style, visual appeal, and looking good spread to local bands performing at hometown dance halls all over the country.

Note phrases like in the groove on a killer diller. The term ride men means soloists or side men.

Another excellent jazz magazine that documented and detailed the moves and recordings of the big bands of the Swing era was Metronome magazine. Both Metronome and Down Beat employed talented writers and featured informative essays about jazz, big band swing and the music business in general. Down Beat magazine had Dave Dexter (Playback) as writer; Metronome magazine had George T. Simon (The Big Bands.) Both later authored introspective books regarding their areas of expertise in the business.

Swing was everywhere in 1937 as evidenced in this article. Note Benny Goodman's appearance at the Palomar Theatre; recordings of which are available on CD today. The famous L.A. theater burned to the ground in October 1939 destroying all of Charlie Barnet's charts and instruments (aside from one bass fiddle.)

The subtly swinging Red Norvo band got great press in many jazz magazine articles in the 1930s and 1940s but unfortunately never achieved much commercial success. Xylophonist Norvo was well respected among jazzmen as far back as the early 1930s. He was married to his vocalist Mildred Bailey until the early 1940s. The two had met as performers in Paul Whiteman's band in the early 1930s and became known as Mr. and Mrs. Swing during the Big Band era.

Although there may not be any earth shattering big band music news flashes in this article, many fans of big band jazz were as interested in personel changes in the great bands as baseball fans are of any changes in a teams roster.

Stay tuned for more historical jazz magazine images from the Big Band era and beyond, as well as many more biographies and rare photos. And coming soon to a Real Audio player near you, more audio clips from our weekly jazz and big band music radio show.
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