What is it about the American Big Bands which explains their enduring appeal? American writer Gene Lees described their characteristic sound as “one that will not go away”… be assured, we don’t let it!
“For lovers of big American bands this is a collection that I recommend. They are the most beautiful music of great talents. Quick service and delivery times.” A. Sammarini, Italy
What is it about big bands which explains their enduring appeal? American writer Gene Lees described their characteristic sound as ‘one that will not go away’. Once heard, never forgotten in other words, and especially true for those who grew up with the idea that the best kind of fun came from dancing to the beat of a big band. The extraordinary popularity of social dancing prompted the formation of a great many travelling orchestras, some linked to a lushly romantic style, others committed to altogether hotter rhythms. There were dance halls on every corner and minor musical masterpieces were turned out by the score, all designed to tap into the upbeat mood of post-Depression America.
While it was entirely possible for these bands to survive and achieve success without ever entering the studios, it is unarguable that major reputations were built (and sustained) through recordings. Twenty-three of these top-rated groups are represented here. Some of them stayed around for decades, others were short-lived; some were led by fine instrumentalists, black and white, and a few by artists who are active still. Although the basic format doesn’t differ much – big bands usually include trumpets, trombones, saxes and a rhythm section – these selections clearly show the stylistic diversity of the idiom. Each offers unique variations of ensemble balance and texture; soloists are recognisably individual. Who said big bands all sound the same?