The Top 100 Artists of All Time, Artists 60-51. For further information as to how the list was created, please click here.
60. McKinney’s Cotton Pickers
With tight musicians and pretty sweet arrangements, McKinney’s Cotton Pickers were one of the few bands that could compete with the likes of Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington back in the day. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out Four or Five Times and Will You, Won’t You Be My Babe.
59. Wingy Manone
Manone, who got his name after losing his right arm in a street car accident at age 10, is most popularly known these days for his killer version of Ochi Chornya. But don’t stop there! Check out Swingin At The Hickory House, The Isle of Capri and In The Slot. Wingy Manone with Bing Crosby
58. Lucky Millinder
You can’t say Lucky Millinder without yelling “SAVOY!!!” And you really can’t hate a song that mentions bacon. Is that song old hat to you? Check out these two favorites by Millinder “Mason Flyer” and “Little John Special”. But if you are still diggin on Savoy, make sure you find the faster version. It swings just as hard as the popular version.
57. Pete Johnson
For me, Pete Johnson will be known in my head as the one man who provided me with the listening pleasure that is the song “Roll Em Pete”. Most notably recorded by Big Joe Turner and Joe Williams (personally I am more of a fan of the Williams version, but I think that is because he is back by the Count Basie Orchestra, so I might be a little biased).
56. Kay Kyser
Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge had a personality like no other of its time. Personally, he reminds me a bit of Weird Al, in that funny lyrics and gimmicks to his music. Song titles like Strip Polka, Praise the Lord and Pass the Amunition, and of course Woody Woodpecker. But that doesn’t mean that there is no value in his music, check out his version of Who’s Yehoodi.
55. Erskine Hawkins
Tuxedo Junction is a popular tune among swing dancers, especially to do the Shim Sham (Glenn Miller and Harry James have great recordings). But have you ever heard the live version by Hawkins? I have to thank ex-San Luis Obispo DJ Jesse Gearhart for introducing me to his extended collection of Hawkins music, including a wonderful 6 minute live version of Tuxedo Junction. Those growling horns in the beginning are so intriguing.
54. Jan Savitt
Starting out as a symphony violinist with a major U.S. Orchestra, Savitt had an unparalleled ambition, when he wanted something, he got it. Savitt had top musicians in his band at all times, no exceptions. With a strong shuffle rhythm, great for dancing, two of my favorite tracks has to be Blues In The Groove and Green Goon Jive.
53. Dicky Wells
William ‘Dicky’ Wells played with such memorable bands as Count Basie, Buck Clayton and Fletcher Henderson. Wells made his mark on the jazz community playing trombone with his signature ‘pepper pot’ mute. Hear it featured on this great track, Dicky Wells Blues.
52. Cootie Williams
With a name like Cootie, it has to be good. Hells yes! One of my favorite Hi-Fi albums, Cootie Williams In HiFi, features Air Mail Special and Summit Ridge Drive, two classic swing dance songs. While he played with Chick, Fletch, Duke and Benny, there is a great volume of tracks on his own from the 50s. It’s a tad less swingy than his classic big band stuff, but his sound is not to go unheard.
51. Joe Williams
I was lucky enough to be able to see Joe Williams live before his passing in 1999, and man what an amazing show that was. If you have ever wondered if a vocalist can swing all on their own, be sure to check out any recording of Williams singing Everyday or Roll ‘Em Pete (backed by the Count Basie Orchestra) you will be amazed! No really you will.
Check out the list: