An Unofficial Video History

Nate Wooley

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.

Woody Herman's Thundering Herd
Buddy Rich
Charles Mingus
Duke Ellington with Paul Gonsalves's famous solo on Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue
Count Basie
Thad Jones and the Mel Lewis Orchestra
Maria Schneider
Sam Rivers
Muhal Richard Abrams
Anthony Braxton
Don Ellis
Maynard Ferguson
Toshiko Akiyoshi
Globe Unity Orchestra
London Jazz Composers Orchestra
Sun Ra Arkestra
ICP Orchestra with Toshinori Kondo
Willem Breuker Kollektief
Ray Barreto
Eddie Palmieri

An Unofficial Video History