A Completely Unofficial History of Big Band Music

In YouTube Clips

In the spirit of transparency, what follows began as a deeply researched and rigorously culled collection of historic footage intended to give an efficiently inclusive overview of big band history in American and elsewhere.

 

What then occurred was a deep-dive into the offerings of a certain online video-streaming service which is usually reserved for bored days at work or used to quickly end an exciting party. Needless to say, one enjoyable clip led to another equally enjoyable clip and then to a band that "absolutely must be included!" and then, "well, if that band is included, you HAVE to have show people this clip of THIS band!" and, as the digital smoke cleared, the word "rigor" was anthropomorphically hiding under my desk.

 

It took a couple of weeks of editorial hand-wringing until a friend reminded me that this, in a decidedly more humanist fashion, was the exact way that we learned about the music we loved. It may have been done with LPs and cassettes, but the spirit was the same. So, it was decided that the list remain in its original, non-rigorous, completely unofficial, open-to-debate state with the hope that the reader will not come away from the page understanding anything about the history of big band, but with a deep appreciation for what big bands are and can be.

 

The order is as it came during the online-bacchanalia; not to be read in to too deeply. Start where you like, end where you like, and enjoy.

 

-Nate Wooley, Editor-In-Chief, Sound American

 

 

Woody Herman's Thundering Herd

 

 

Buddy Rich

 

 

Charles Mingus

Paul Gonsalves's Famous Solo on Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue

(2 Versions)

 

 

Count Basie

Benny Goodman's Famous Carnegie Hall Performance

 
Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra
 
 
Maria Schneider
 
 
Sam Rivers
 
Muhal Richard Abrams
 
Anthony Braxton's Sonic Genome
 
 
Don Ellis
 
 
Maynard Ferguson
 
 
Toshiko Akiyoshi
 
 
Globe Unity Orchestra
 
London Jazz Composers Orchestra
 
 
Sun Ra Arkestra
 
 
ICP
 
Willem Breuker Kollektief
 
 
Ray Barreto
 
 
Eddie Palmieri
 
 
Fire! Orchestra