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Music has been around for as long as anyone can remember, but only in the twentieth century did it become such a central part of everyday life.

 

 

Thanks to the developments in mass communication, beginning with the simple conical phonographs, gramophones and the radio that began to arrive in the living rooms of families around the World, music added color to people lives- a factor which is acknowledged as playing a significant part in increasing moral during the depression years of the late twenties and early thirties, as well as the war years of the forties and playing a major part in helping to celebrate the post war “boom years” of the fifties and sixties.

 

 

During these fundamental years of the twentieth century, it was big band music that lead the way with some of the most talented musicians of the century carving out an indelible place in history.

 

 

Originating mostly in the United States, the origins of the big bands and the people that led them, at the outset, were almost entirely jazz orientated. However, during the late thirties and forties, a new form or big band began to emerge, led by such musical perfectionists as Glen Miller, Beny Goodamn and Artie Shaw who were pioneers of the Swing Era sound.

 

The swing bands depended less on instrumentalists, instead featuring popular vocalists.  Among the best known were Frank Sinatra with Tommy Dorsey, Billie Holiday with Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald with Louis Armstrong and Peggy Lee with Benny Goodman.

 

When the first big bands began to emerge at the height of the roaring twenties that could vary in size between ten to twenty five members, some of them with a fairly large string section, including violinists.   However, as the more powerful swing form of music began to gain popularity during the mid thirties, string sections began to be phased out, with brass and woodwind sections taking their place.

 

Most of the iconic bandleaders of that era played their own instruments, with the pairings  being Harry James and Louis Armstrong on trumpet, Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman on clarinet,  Charlie Parker  and Oscar Peterson on saxophone with the more obscure but no less entertaining being  Lionel Hampton on xylophone ( vibes)  and Gene Krupa on the drums.

 

 

No matter in which format, the young people of the United States and the rest of the World lapped up the big band music style, and with record production in its infancy, and radio performances few and far between, music lovers of the era would travel to see their favorite bands making live appearances in local halls.

 

In these times it was not unusual for bands to take off in tours lasting months on end, although the larger ensembles would normally restrict their performances to the major population centers of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and sometimes in London, Paris and other European capitals.

 

 

After  the outbreak of World War Two, the Big Bands played  a major role in lifting morale of the troops and the public at large. However the war was to have a devastating effect on many of the bands, many of them breaking up and some members even being killed in action- with the best known  of them Glen Miller who died in action in 1944

 

 

In the post war years, the big band phenomena  began to  gradually fade out, with many of the bands downsizing to become  to sextets or  even quintets.  

 

 However the fifties and sixties  did see the emergence of some notable performers, among them John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich, Stan Kenton, Dave Brubeck and Miles Davies.

 

 

Antonio Carlos Jobim arrived on the scene in the swinging sixties as a  pioneer of  an Afro-Brazilian style of music  known as Bossa Nova  using some of the traditional elements of big band instrumentation that had been so popular in its heyday. 

 

 

This web site is dedicated to these times, the fabulously talented bands and the bandleaders, who led them each stamping their own personality and shaping their vision of the perfect sound over them.

 

 

I hope that my website will bring you as much enjoyment as I had creating it!