The Top 100 Artists of All Time, Artists 90 – 81. For further information as to how the list was created, please click here.
90. Billy Strayhorn
One of the few openly gay musicians of the time (that I know of), Strayhorn is best known for this composition “Take The A Train,” and “Satin Doll” written for Duke Ellington. As Ellington described him, “Billy Strayhorn was my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brain waves in his head, and his in mine” Quite a compliment coming from one of the most important and prolific artists in jazz history.
89. Bud Freeman
C-Melody Saxophone star, Bud Freeman just kills it on the track The Eel. Not that his other musical accomplishments are not enough to warrant a position here, but The Eel, to me, captures Freeman perfectly; rhythmic, energetic and solidly swingin’ saxophone.
88. Willie Lewis
One of those ‘rare gems’ in the swing dance music world. The unfortunate part for me is that I didn’t discover Willie until the last few years! What a shame I have only been playing them a short while. Lewis recorded excellent versions of Christopher Columbus and I’ve Found A New Baby; my favorites.
87. Anita O’Day
Our first jazz vocalist on the list, Anita O’Day is most well-known to the dance community for her work with Gene Krupa and Roy Eldridge. Watch The Birdie, Stop! The Red Lights On, two of her more well known tracks. *Bonus points on MTV; I heard Anita was one lascivious woman in her later years; hitting on many a young men at The Derby.
86. J.C. Higginbottham
Higginbotham was considered to be the most energetic of the swing trombone players; wild outbreaks on stage were characteristic. And we thank him for that! I wonder if he ever tried out for a band with Lionel Hampton, who known for hiring showman for his band. Check out this ‘relaxed’ version of Casa Loma Stomp.
85. Jay McShann
Jazz pianist and singer, Jay McShann is always welcome on the dance floor for his blues piano and soulful swingin’ sound. Playing with such greats as Ben Webster, Jimmy Witherspoon and Claude Williams, McShann’s most popular track at dance events has to be Moten Swing; a classic.
84. Alix Combelle
French tenor saxophonist, Alix Combelle is most popularly known in my collection for his kick ass version of Jumpin At The Woodside, featuring Django Reinhardt, and Exactly Like You, featuring Bill Coleman.
83. Claude Hopkins
With residences in 2 of the top ballrooms in Harlem, the Cotton Club and the Savoy, pianist Claude Hopkins led a widely popular band thru the 40s. One of my favorites: Truckin’.
82. Ted Heath
Inspired by Glenn Miller to form his own band, Heath is one of the most prolific British dance band leaders of his time. If you thought Glenn Miller was square…..
81. Henry Red Allen
Who didn’t this guy play with? Fats Waller, Luis Russell, Fletcher Henderson, Don Redman, Mills Blue Rhythm Band, Jelly Roll Morton, and even Benny Goodman and Billy Holiday. A jazz trumpeter who was said to be the first to expand beyond the improvisation of Louis Armstrong, Allen has 2 great tracks I love to play at ABW: Feelin The Spirit, Minnie The Moochers Wedding Day and Barrel House.
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