The Top 100 Artists of All Time, Artists 40-31. For further information as to how the list was created, please click here.
Ole Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra, had one of the most prolific careers of any jazz vocalist. Getting his start with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra dazzled his listeners with superior vocal styling and a presence on stage matched by no one. From his early years with Dorsey, his time with the Rat Pack and through the 90’s, Sinatra recorded more songs that became standards that you can shake a stick at. Hands down, my favorite Sinatra recordings are on ‘Sinatra Live At The Sands, featuring the Count Basie Orchestra’ and should be on the must buy list for any swing aficionado. My two favorite tracks on that album are Come Fly With Me and Get Me To The Church On Time.
To me, Goldkette and his Orchestra will be forever known as the band who took down Fletcher Henderson at the Roseland Ballroom. Hailing from Detroit, this all white band was one of the most bad ass in the land. With only top shelf musicians like Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, Eddie Land, Frankie Trumbauer, and Bix Beiderbecke, The Goldkette Orchestra was tauted by Rex Stewart as “the first original white swing band in jazz history.” After Paul Whiteman stole away most of Goldkettes musicians due to cash flow problems, he help to organize both McKinneys Cotton Pickers and the Casa Loma Orchestra.
Weldon Leo “Jack” Teagarden, better known as Big T or The Swingin’ Gate was a huge influencer of jazz trombone, often times considered the Father of Jazz Trombone and the most innovative white jazz trombonist pre Bebop era. Self taught, Big T developed several unusual positions and novel special effects with the trombone. His most stand out track has to be Harlem Jump, a regular song in Balboa events around the world.
As an arranger with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, Don Redman helped to create the classic big band sound. The trademark of Redman arrangements was harmonized melody lines and pseudo-solos within separate sections of the song; a highly innovating and sophisticated technique. My favorite Redman track: Christopher Columbus and Swingin’ With The Fat Man
To swing dancers Les Brown is mostly notably known for “Leap Frog” The quintessential song used in music appreciation classes to demonstrate the classic AABA format of big band swing. It took me a long time to find anything else worthy of playing at a lindy hop event, until I found Les Brown and his Duke Blue Devils. Man, that guy can swing! Check out his version of Rigamarole. Man that song kicks!
You can’t say The Big Band Years without hearing mention of Harry James. Starting with Ben Pollock, and then making a name for himself with Benny Goodman (being a part of the great Carneige Hall concert of 1938). With a playing style as unique as James’ career, he was featured in several Hollywood films including: The Benny Goodman Story, Springtime In The Rockies and Two Girls and A Sailor. James has many well-known tracks including my favorites: Flyin Home(live), Life Goes To A Party, Boo Woo, Cottin Pickin and of course Two O’Clock Jump.
Jazz pianist and member of the first integrated jazz band, Teddy WIlson had a supremely sophisticated and elegant style that was featured with the likes of Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong and most notably Billie Holiday. Most notable is his pairing with Billie Holiday. It might be cliche to say, but it is truly a match made in heaven. Check out When You’re Smiling and What A Little Moonlight Can Do.
33.Boots and His Buddies
Lead by drummer Clifford “Boots” Douglas, this territory US territory band might be one of the lesser known bands you dance to, but well worth the discovery. I found them not too long ago, and simply cannot get enough. Hard driving and solid through and through, hopefully Boots will become a favorite of yours as fast as he became mine. Check out Rose Room and True Blue Lou.
Most notably known for the song Jamaica Jam, Teddy Powell delivers a strong swing rhythm, with excellent melodies and interesting arrangments. Notable to Jamaica Jam, and similarly to Jamaica Jam #2 (yes that is the name, albeit not very creative :D) Jamaica Jam, for some, including myself, is about as close as you can get to “balboa music.” Note that I said “as close as you can get.” As most are well aware, I am not a fan, nor do I believe that there is such a thing as balboa music; but I digress. If you are a fan of Jamaica Jam, check out these other awesome tracks: An Ode To Spring, Flee On A Spree, 4:15 Jump and Tomaschefsky’s Laundry (He did have some great song titles)
One of the earliest recorded artists on this list, King Oliver, Trumpet, is credited with creating a style of collective improvisation, what we call today, Hot Jazz. Mentor of such greats as Louis Armstrong and Bubber Miley, Oliver played in several bands from the birth of jazz through the late 1920s. King Oliver is also credited with pioneering the use of mutes (a.k.a. the plunger looking things at the end of a trumpet :D) According the Armstrong, “If it had not been for Joe Oliner, jazz would not be what it is today.”
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