Exploring the Big Band Sound 1926-45

Our Jazz Appreciation group explored the Big Band Sound on Tuesday 22 August 2023 with Ken providing a series of recordings that illustrated the development of the sound.

Starting with the music of Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra in about 1926, a new sound was developed using the Swing form of Jazz. The new sound was supported by Benny Moten playing with his Kansas City Orchestra. Many famous musicians played in these two orchestras, and we were introduced to a young Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington amongst others.

From Kansas City we moved on to the music of Irving Berlin with “Puttin’ on the Ritz” sung by Al Jolson from the film of the same name. It was the performance by Harry Richman however that ended up in the 1929 film. Later, the song became much more famous when it was performed by Fred Astaire in the film “Blue Skies”. Talking of Blue Skies led us to the Tommy Dorsey from 1941.

We also heard from Benny Goodman, Nat Shilkret, Arty Shaw, Count Basie, Glen Miller and Duke Ellington. We ended up with Harry James featuring Helen Forest, and finished in 1943 with Peggy Lee with Benny Goodman. Development of the Big Band Sound slowed in the mid 1940s, but the music still continued to be performed.

This illustrated talk formed part of our analysis of the different forms of Jazz and how they fit into the overall picture and is proving very popular with those interested in music.

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