JAZZ ORCHESTRAS OF THE 30’S TO THE 60’S

Drum set pic

During the 30’s Benny Goodman and Glen Miller played together as sidemen for several Bands. History shows how successful they both became. Miller was a Trombonist and became very successful as a bandleader from 1939. Of his many successful tunes, “In the Mood, Moonlight Serenade and String of Pearls” are favourites. Sadly he died when serving in World War 2. His plane apparently came down in the English Channel, although it was never found. www.biography.com/musician/glenn-miller

Pianist Count Basie was a successful Band leader from the late 30’s with tunes such as” Pennies from Heaven” the vocalist was Jimmy Rushing and “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” with vocalist Helen Humes. Basie continued with his Bands through the 40’s and 50’s and went on to back Sinatra at his best. Sinatra and Basie were huge drawcards at Las Vegas in the 60’s. www.wnyc.org/story/sinatra-and-basie

The magic of Duke Ellington as a Pianist and Orchestra leader was evident when he took the Louis Bellson tune, “Skin Deep” and made it a hit in the fifties. Ellington was also a prolific composer, although he co-composed a number of his best pieces. Tunes such as “Caravan” he co-composed with Juan Tizol and “Take the A Train” which was actually written by Billy Strayhorn. www.dukeellington.com

Billy Eckstine was a Jazz and Pop singer with a rich operatic bass-baritone voice. He was also for a short time a Band leader in the forties. His Band became the finishing school for many young Jazz Musicians who would later shape the future of Jazz.  Names such as Dizzy Gillesppie, Dexter Gordon, and Miles Davis all performed with Eckstine.

Gil Evans was a Canadian Pianist and Bandleader who founded his first Band in the late 30’s, then as an arranger in the 40’s and early 50’s primarily with Miles Davis. In the late 50’s Evans began leading his own orchestras again with one of his early albums being one of Jazz Standards with tunes such as “Davenport Blues.” Into the 70’s Gil Evans began featuring electric instruments such as Guitars. An example of this is with his acclaimed 1971 album “Where Flamingos Fly.”

American Pianist and composer, Stan Kenton formed his first orchestra in 1940 and made his first recording in 1946 where “Artistry in Rhythm” was born. He also regularly played with female leading vocalists such as Chris Connor, Ann Richards and, June Christy. Over the next forty years Kenton led a variety of Big Bands and Orchestra. www.wikiwand.com/en/Stan_Kenton

Maynard Ferguson was a Canadian Jazz Trumpeter and Bandleader in the 50’s after playing in the Stan Kenton Orchestra. He was a child prodigy, having mastered the piano and Violin by age four. At nine he began playing the Cornet. He led Bands in Canada whilst in his teens and at 20 moved to the USA and joined Kenton’s Band. For the next 40 years he led Bands and toured. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maynard_Ferguson

Denis Wall

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