Recommend some Big Band jazz

Yeah, I know there have been previous threads – I’ve even posted in a few. This, however, is the first Big Band Recommendation thread of 2009.

The way I listen to music is that I’ll load the CD player, then listen to the same five CDs over and over, sometimes for months. At a certain point, I retire the CD into the library, whence it may or may not reemerge – and sometimes I’ll put it on the computer so I can use one or another track for a mix CD. (Yes, I know there are downloads and iPods and all that, but I’m an old-fashioned girl, and this is how I like to listen to music.)

I go through periods when I take a lot of CDs out of the library, often completely at random, looking for my next “over and over again” CD. Sometimes they’re amazingly good, and sometimes I can’t even get through a single listen.

On my most recent trip, I took out this album with jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim playing with a Big Band. Good album, I’m really enjoying it – and will definitely look for more by Ibrahim – but the horn section reminds me that I really like good Big Band.

I’m pretty ignorant of the genre, though. I’ve got Benny Goodman’s Carnegie Hall concert and several albums by Either/Orchestra.

Recommend some good Big Band jazz, please, classic or modern – esp. the stuff that gets you chair dancing.


Classic: Glenn Miller

Modern: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and The Brian Setzer Orchestra

One of my favorites of late:

Concord Jazz Heritage Series - Frank Capp Juggernaut

Not a bad cut on the CD and the Ernestine Anderson vocal on I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart is my favorite.


Recent Big Band - Rob McConnell & The Boss Brass. Overtime is my favorite of their many CDs

Check out Sammy Nestico as a composer/arranger. He’s best known as an arranger for the Count Basie band. I find both Nestico and Basie very “accessible” - I played their stuff in jazz bands from 7th grade all the way through college. They are favorites of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, which is a top-notch group.

Maria Schneider is a great big band composer. Two albums that I particularly enjoy are: “Coming About” and “Evanescence”.

If you’re not already familiar with Cab Calloway, you should check him out. There should be plenty of clips on Youtube.

My apologies if I’m misreading this, but I don’t need the “easy-listening” versions (I really hate “smooth jazz”). Rhythmic and melodic complexity is a necessity if I’m going to be listening to an album daily for a month or six.

I ordered Juggernaut on your recommendation, flickster (how could I not, since your username proves we’re kindred spirits). Lute, I’ll look for Brian Setzer and Big Bad Voodoo [del]Lou[/del] Daddy when I go to the library this afternoon.

And, yeah, I know and like Cab Calloway, though I don’t own any of his albums. (Probably have a cut or three on one or another compilation album, a genre for which I have a great fondness – they definitely work for musical magpies like myself.)

Thanks for the tips, gang – keep 'em coming.

Oh, not smooth jazz at all! They’re about as classic big band as they come. I mean “accessible” as in fun and really swingin’!

Bob Florence, Matt Catingub, Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin are all some of my favorites.

…another vote for Rob McConnell & The Boss Brass.

Ah, good – thanks for the clarification!

**twicks **- I suspect you know about the biggies, from Glenn Miller, Paul Whiteman, Artie Shaw and the Dorseys, etc. I suspect you also can find solid contributions from Ellington, Basie, Calloway. All good stuff and, at the very least, some highly-rated Best Of type CD’s would set you up.

I am going to recommend you move in a slightly different direction: Jump Blues. Jump Blues is a late 30’s, early 40’s genre that lives up through today. In many ways, it is a critical progenitor of rock n’ roll - it is bouncy, boogie rhythms but played with a full Big Band orchestra. As I have stated in previous threads, Chuck Berry was trying to fake some of the jump blues horn arrangements on his guitar (he didn’t have all those pieces when gigging on the chitlin’ circuit so had to make do with his guitar - and we are all much better off because of that! ;-). And yeah, it was at the heart of the swing jazz revival of a decade ago…so all of those bands like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies are descendants of it…

Some CD’s

  • **No Moe! The Best of Louis Jordan **- worth the price for “Saturday Night Fish Fry” and “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?” alone…

-** T-Bone Walker** - the first electric blues guitarist; oh my does this man have chops. I have the Best of Imperial Recordings which is overkill but there are so many excellent tracks. You have to get songs like Strollin’ with Bones, Glamour Girl, The Hustle is On, and his signature track, Stormy Monday

  • There is other original-era stuff, but you would do well to consider the Brian Setzer Orchestra’s CD’s or Duke Robillard’s CD Duke’s Blues, which is excellent.

Hope this helps and sorry to not responding directly to your OP!!

Not at all – I was hoping to lure you in to recommend whatever you think I’ll enjoy, given starting place X. I’ll look for these CDs, thanks!

Cool - and in that case, based on the stuff you’ve liked in the past that I have recommended, I suspect you will LOVE this stuff…get the Jordan first and decide from there…but if Saturday Night Fish Fry doesn’t have you laughing and dancing at the same time, I will eat my hat.

I never see anyone mention Charlie Burnett in Big Band threads, but he was good as they come. Terrific stuff.

Buddy Rich - Mercy, Mercy.
Recorded live at Caesar’s Palace in 1968. An absolutely smokin’ big band album recorded at the height of Rich’s big band resurgence. Great drum solos, killer sax solo in Channel 1 Suite, very tight horn sections. And when you listen to this and how awesome Buddy Rich plays, remember it was all recorded in one take early in the morning for a closed group of Caesar’s Palace workers after the band had just finished their 2 regular shows for the night. That is hardcore chops.

More proto Big Band then real big band, but Louis Armstrong’s Hot 5s and Hot 7s box setis fan-freakin-tastic.

You may also enjoy the slightly later, post big band, stylings of Louis Prima. Particularly paired with Keeley Smith. (YouTube)

Also, don’t overlook Dizzie Gilespie.(YouTube) Again, not really Big Band, but BeBop which is what Big Band evolved into when the bands needed to get smaller. The linked song is more swingin’ than most of his stuff.

Also, my very favorite of the “modern” swing bands, back when I was a swing kid circa 1995 (pre-gap add thank you very much) was the Royal Crown Review. (YouTube Links) Check out the album Mugsey’s Move (seemingly out of print, but not hard to find), which is still one of my all time favorite records.

I’m honored - hope you like it. In fact I’ve been sitting here enjoying it this evening. The opening cut, Little Pony, is a winner as well. Driving sax and bass feature. The bass player is a monster on several cuts. I don’t have the original jewel case handy and my google foo seems to be lacking tonight so I can’t identify who it is…:smack:

Another classic Glenn Miller - this one will blow your socks off.

I’ve Got A Girl In Kalamazoo

Nice choices. Especially the Hot 5’s and 7’s - pretty much the start of it all, jazz-wise, along with Jelly Roll.

Thanks, I really love the box set I linked to. It’s a great listen all the way through. I almost put on the Jellyroll Library of Congress recordings box, but decided that it was too far away from big band to count. (It isn’t big band at all, though it does swing.)