March 12, 2013

Top 100 Artists of All Time 30 – 21

The Top 100 Artists of All Time, Artists 30-21. For further information as to how the list was created, please click here.

30.Fats Waller

While Fats might not be one of my personal favorite artists on this list, (don’t throw your shoes at me!) there is no mistaking his musical contribution to the history of Jazz. Pianist and vocalist, Waller had a highly distinct set of lyrics that has never been matched. Recording such tunes as I’m On A See-Saw, Your Feets Too Big, and The Love Big Will Bite You, Waller’s vocal stylings are an unmovable force in the history of jazz.

29.Charlie Barnett

Of all the saxophone players that I hear in a given night dancing, Barnett, to me, has the most identifiable sounds of any. Leading what some called, “The Blackest White Band Of Them All,” Barnett recorded the balboa classic, Cherokee, with its memorable melody and strong rhythm section coupled with a fantastic arrangement, Cherokee is always a hit on the dance floor. Barnett was also known to be a huge, outspoken fan of both Basie and Ellington, so much so, that he named two well known tracks in their honor, The Count’s Idea and The Duke’s Idea. Both favorites of dance floors around the world. While it was said “Swing and Sway with Sammie Kay”, you could also hear “Swing and Sweat with Charlie Barnett”.

28.Edgar Hayes

While his recorded music collection may be limited to a handful of songs, Edgar Hayes has recorded some of the most best swing music around! From Swingin’ In The Promised Land to Manhattan Jam and Stompin At The Renny, Hayes makes a memorable statement by his strong use of Baritone saxophonist, Joe Garland. In particular, Swingin’ In The Promised land is not shy about its heavy of the weighty instrument all throughout the song including a lengthy, and highly curious solo at the start of the song. There is also “rumor” that Stompin’ At The Renny birthed the riff for the ever popular song Flying Home, take a listen for yourself (2:00), sounds mighty similar to me.

27.Will Bradley

King of the Big Band Boogie Woogie sound, Will Bradley offers one of the most unique big band experiences around. Born, Wilbur Schwitenberg (that’s a mouthful), Bradley was a trombone player and band leader who was regularly featured on “The CBS Saturday Night Swing Club”, when in 1939, he formed a band with drummer Ray McKinley. Bradley was also one of the first band leaders to appear in soundies (think MTV music video of the 30’s). There are several tracks of his that are on regular rotation, including: Scrub Me Mama With A Boogie Beat, This Little Icky Went To Town and Beat Me Daddy Eight to the Bar.

26.Hot Lips Page

Most notably known in the swing community for the widely popular version of Lafayette. The one song that altogether bluesy, swinging, fast, melodic and rich. This song has some in the community (we all know what happens when I tell everyone about your favorite song Kate Hedin) on the dance floor every time. There is something about that mean ole’ intro that makes you want to get down or something. Don’t be fooled by the faster version from the Kansas City soundtrack (excellent in its own right) that will get you in trouble at most events for it’s length and faster tempo.

25.Charlie Christian

Father of the electric guitar, Charlie Christian is quite possibly the most well known figure in jazz guitar, second only, in my opinion, to Django Reinhardt. He is also credited with helping to create the post-swing sound of bebop and cool jazz. Christian gained national exposure when he joined the Benny Goodman sextet in 1939. Giving up all of his credits and accolades, he was not one for solos. When presented with the opportunity to perform a solo with a big band, like Goodman’s, he would often just continue playing the rhythm of the song (see Honeysuckle Rose, 1938).

24.Bob Crosby

Yes, he is related to Bing Crosby, but fortunately, Bob got all the swing and jazz rhythms that are often missing from Bings repertoire (/snaps). Crosby is most notably known for the hard driving song, Big Noise From Winnetka, however, my most favorite song by Crosby has to be his version of At The Jazz Band Ball. A great combination of strong dixieland sound with high quality musicianship. Love those mood changes! The beauty of the Crosby band was the variety of sound you get from the him, Savoy Blues, Tea For Two and Fidgety Feet could not be any more different from each other, yet deliver the high quality music you expect from a big name band.

23.Earl Hines

Jazz pianist and big band leader, Earl ‘Father’ Hines has left a large imprint in jazz history. He started his career dazzling the likes of Louis Armstrong with his “trumpt-style” piano-playing allowing his piano “to be heard out front”. When Hines replaced Armstrong’s wife, Lil; Hardin Armstrong, on piano, the two came together to record one of the most famous jazz records ever, the 1928 trumpet and piano duo, ‘Weatherbird’. In the swing community however, he is most notably known for Rock ‘N Rye and Ridin’ And Jiving. Hines’ orchestra delivers a gritty, urban and roughneck sound through Ridin’ And Jiving. Hines was successful at separating his recordings from the often flitty and sunrise sounds of Goodman and Shaw. After the fall of the big band era in the 40’s, Hines shifted his interests outside music, but fortunately kept one eye on the piano. Through the 60’s and 70’s Hines returned to recording with small groups, including recording an excellent live record, Earl Hines Live in New Orleans, 1974; with a great version of Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives Me. A not too far departure from his big band days, this album delivers a strong swinging New Orleans small combo sound. A must have for any dancer or music collector.
Favorite Tracks: Cavernism, Rock N Rye, Ridin And Jivin, Blues My Naughty.

22.Willie Bryant

Although most, if not all, of his recorded music can be found on one CD, Chronological Willie Bryant, two tracks stand out as classic balboa tracks in the swing community: Rigamarole and CHimes at the Meeting. Rigamarole is a non-stop swinging masterpiece that delivers a strong rhythm, excellent solos and great energy. Not to be out done, Bobby White’s favorite song (did I say that outloud?), Chimes at the Meeting is a classic delivering a loose swinging beat, and a memorable intro.

21.Gene Krupa

Second to only one, Gene Krupa continues to have a huge influence on both jazz and popular drummers today. Known as the dancers drummer, Krupa believed that a drum solo should not be the part of the song where dancers to get a drink of water. Playing what is referred to as break time, Krupa’s solos are just as danceable as any other part of the song. Krupa also felt that the drums need not be relegated to the back of the proverbial bus. Instead, after leaving Goodman’s band, Krupa pushed his instrument to the front of the stage; showcasing his talents in a way that hadn’t been done before. More popularly known in the swing community for his work with Anita O’day, Krupa made a name for himself, or at least with Goodman, when he took over Sing Sing Sing off the album Benny Goodman: Live at Carnegie Hall, 1938. Although today, we are accustomed to very long renditions of the song played by our local bands, this was not the original intent. During the Carnegie Hall concert, Krupa was not happy with the bands performance, (nor was he happy with Benny Goodman, but that is a whole other story). In an effort to strike up the band and inject some life into his mates, he took several ‘longer than normal’ solos during Sing Sing Sing…much to the delight of the crowd, and the anger of Benny Goodman, Krupa’s drumming was a rousing success. Not too long after this incident, Krupa and Benny Goodman parted ways, both continuing to have successful careers after the split. Check out the B-Movie “The Gene Krupa Story” for two reasons. One, Benny Goodman isn’t mentioned ANYWHERE in the movie, and two, Gene dubbed the drum solos for the movie, which you can tell because I don’t think the actor even knew HOW to play the drums.

Check out the rest of the list:

100 – 91







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