The Top 100 Artists of All Time, Artists 100 – 91. For further information as to how the list was created, please click here.
One of the few contemporary artists on this list, Gordon Webster is killing it with his swingin’ jazz, small combo styles; playing crowd favorites from C Jam Blues to Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho, and even Bie Mir Bist Du Schon. Canadian born, and now a well travelled piano player, Webster found his inspiration from such greats as Oscar Peterson, Fats Waller and Count Basie. A dancer’s favorite anywhere he goes, Webster is fast becoming one of the most sought after musicians today. To listen and purchase his music, click here. I highly suggest you do.
Playing alongside many of the greats of his time, Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden, Wilber Sweatman, Willie Bryant and even Earl Hines, Cole had tremendous success in every band he played in. A lifelong student of the drums, he was the first black musician to work on a network musical staff (CBS in 1943). Known widely in the dance community for his swingin’ rendition of Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho; complete with rousing drum intro. The Cozy Cole All Stars Album is a must have. If you can find it 🙁
Not one of those pianists you would particularly be able to pick out of a lineup, but how can you go wrong with a song entitled ‘Jam with Bacon?’ Perhaps one of my more favorite Johnson tracks, along with Shine and the screamin I’ve Got Rhythm. But really, Jam with Bacon? That should be a mandatory song for any contemporary band these days. Everything goes better with bacon.
Our first clarinetist to make the list; Jimmy Noone was considered one of the best clarinetists of the 1920s, rivaling such names as Sidney Bechet and Johnny Dodds. More known for his smooth, romantic tone, Noone played with the likes of Earl Hines and Joe Williams. One of my personal favorites is ‘I Lost My Gal from Memphis – Jimmy Noone (2CD Set Plus 20 Page Booklet)’.
Master of the double bass, Kirby played with both Chick Webb and Fletcher Henderson, two of the premier band leaders of the swing era. In 1937 Kirby set out on his own with the John Kirby Sextet known as the Onyx Club Boys, recording several small group favorites such as Close Shave, Rose Room, and a kick ass version of St. Louis Blues. That little known band from San Francisco /chuckle, Stompy Jones, does a great job of recreating some of Kirby’s best work.
At The Rugcutters Ball(Teddy Hill), Strange Fruit(Billie Holiday), Gimme A Pigfoot (And A Bottle of Beer) (Bessie Smith), bet you didn’t know that was Frank Newton on trumpet, did you? Check out The Panic Is On – The Ultimate Jazz Archive 6: Mezz Mezzrow, Vol. 3 (Mezz Mezrow). While his career was short, it was not short on tremendous skills. Click here for a great article on Frank Newton.
There are a few singular artists that stick out for me in the sea of Big Bands, but Ziggy is one who does; for one singular recording. Swingtime In The Rockies, Benny Goodman: Live At Carnegie Hall 1938. Just listen at the end of the recording, and try your hardest to stop those goose bumps from swelling. To hear Ziggy playing OVER the band during the shout chorus is a triumph that I never tire.
I never said this list was comprised of what most people think is classic swing(in’) music. You might think that Bob Wills is country, but have you ever heard a western swing version of Tea for Two, C-Jam Blues, A Smooth One or even In The Mood? The Texas Playboys recorded these amazingly swingin tracks, and just because they wear cowboy hats, doesn’t means it doesn’t swing! The King of Western Swing (4 disc set of awesomeness!)
Featured pianist for Benny Goodman from 1935 – 1939, Stacy has the unfortunate honor for being the piano player BEFORE Goodman hired Teddy Wilson. Not to be outdone however, Stacy played with such greats as Eddie Condon, Lionel Hampton, Gene Krupa and Bob Crosby. Stacy is featured in one of the more dubious classics of the swing dance community, ‘Sing Sing Sing’ performed Live at Carnegie Hall, 1938.
Yes, I am talking about Ozzie and Harriet, Ozzie Nelson. Before you knew him as the all American dad, he was a fabulous band leader. I know right! Ozzie Nelson a big band leader, who’d a thunk it! Recording two dance favorites of mine: “Central Avenue Shuffle” and “Rigamarole”.
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