Articles, activities for boomers & seniors
Big Band and Swing Music
Big band music is simply music played by a big band, which is typically an ensemble of a dozen or more musicians with the melody carried by woodwinds (sax, clarinet) and brass (trumpet, trombone), a piano and a rhythm section of bass and drums.
Swing is a form of jazz with a heavy emphasis on danceable rhythms. By the late 30’s/early 40’s it had become the dominant style of Western popular music.
Glenn Miller Orchestra
The Glenn Miller Orchestra was a swing/jazz big band formed by Glenn Miller in 1937. It was arranged around a clarinet and tenor saxophone playing melody, while three other saxophones played the harmony. This arrangement was different which made him and his orchestra one of the greatest of the swing era. Some of his famous hits are: “Moonlight Serenade”, “Chattanooga Choo Choo”, “In the Mood”.
Benjamin David “Benny” Goodman was an American jazz and swing musician, clarinetist and bandleader, known as the “King of Swing”. In the mid-1930s, Benny Goodman led one of the most popular musical groups in America. His January 16, 1938 concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City is described by critic Bruce Eder as “the single most important jazz or popular music concert in history. Some of his famous hits are: “Room 1411”, “King Porter Stomp”, “Sing, Sing, Sing”, “Rose Room”, “Why Don’t You Do Right”.
Count Basie Orchestra
William James “Count” Basie was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer. His mother taught him to play the piano and he started performing in his teens. Dropping out of school, he learned to operate lights for vaudeville and to improvise accompaniment for silent films at a local movie theater in his home town of Red Bank, New Jersey.
Some of his famous hits are: One O’clock Jump, April in Paris, Swingin’ the Blues.
Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was an American composer, pianist and bandleader of jazz orchestras. He led his orchestra from 1923, his career spanning over 50 years. Born in Washington, D.C., Ellington was based in New York City from the mid-1920s onward, and gained a national profile through his orchestra’s appearances at the Cotton Club in Harlem. In the 1930s, his orchestra toured in Europe.
Some of his famous hits are: The Ellington Suites, New Orleans Suite, Paris Blues.