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The Birth of Swing, Part 2

On Part 2 of the Birth of Swing, I would like to play some recordings by some of the other big bands that were recording and playing between 1934 and 1936. Some of the bands that were together during those years include The Casa Loma Orchestra, Jimmie Lunceford, Benny Carter, Duke Ellington, The Dorsey Brothers, and Andy Kirk. This is just a sample and if I have missed a certain band I will probably cover them in an upcoming show. There is a lot of variety on the show today and I hope that I...


The Birth of Swing, Part 1

August 21, 1935 is sometimes referred to as the birthday of Swing. It was on this date that the Benny Goodman orchestra, after traveling across the country, opened their engagement at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles, California. They started the night playing it safe with stock arrangements but when they started playing their special arrangements, the kids went wild. These were the numbers they had been listening to on the Let's Dance radio program. On the show today I have a few of the...


My Man Benny, Benny Carter That Is

This week we celebrate the birthday of the multi-talented Benny Carter. He was a composer, arranger, saxophonist, and he played the trumpet too. He was also a great bandleader. He was born on August 8, 1907. My title comes from a cd that Benny recorded with fellow saxophonist Phil Woods. It was a double CD set and each musician wrote a song and dedicated it to the other. Benny's song was called My Man Phil and Phil's was called My Man Benny. I thought you might think this was a show about...


Spotlight on Sonny Dunham

Every week on Big Band Bash I try to present a variety of bands and formats. Sometimes the leaders are well known and sometimes they are not but I always try to present good music from the bands of that era. Today's show is on an excellent trumpet player who led a big band but who didn't quite achieve the fame of some of the other leaders. Today we are going to spotlight the band and trumpet of Sonny Dunham. Sonny played for a while with the Casa Loma Orchestra and then he led his own band....


Number Two in the Charts

During the swing era, many of the record companies and music publishers kept track of a song's weekly standings in the polls. Just as they do today, bandleaders hoped that their recordings would reach the number one spot in the lists. But, sadly, some only made it to the number two position and then no higher. On the show today, we are going to be listening to songs from the years of 1940 and 1941 that only made it to number two. There are some great songs in this set. I got the idea for...


Lyrics by Johnny Mercer

On this week's show, instead of focusing on bandleaders or musicians, I would like to take a look at the career of one of the greatest of the American lyricists Johnny Mercer. John Herndon Mercer was an American lyricist, songwriter and singer. He was also a record label executive, who co-founded Capitol Records. He is best known as a tin pan alley lyricist, but he also composed music. He was also a popular singer who recorded his own songs as well as those written by others. I have pulled...


Tommy Dorsey 1942 Warbond Broadcasts

This week we are going to be listening to some live broadcasts from Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra. These were recorded on a few different dates in July and October 1942. Vocals are by Frank Sinatra, Dick Haymes, Jo Stafford and the Pied Pipers. This is a great set and it features some live Sinatra before he went solo. There are some Dorsey favorites as well as some that he never recorded. So lets go back to the year of 1942 and pretend that you are in your living room with the radio turned...


Echoes of Harlem

On this week's show I am going to take a look at the area of New York City known as Harlem. There have been many songs written about that particular area so I thought it would be interesting to learn about it and explore some of the many songs that have Harlem in the title. Some of the bands we'll be hearing from include Duke Ellington, Mildred Bailey, Stan Kenton, Gene Krupa, Bunny Berigan, and Erskine Hawkins. I hope you enjoy this look at some of the many bands celebrating the spot of New...


"Into The 50's" Time Life - The Swing Era Part 2

This week I am going to continue with Part-two of "Into the 50's" from the Time Life series "The Swing Era". Today's show focuses on songs from the the late 1940's and early 1950's. There are only a couple more volumes in this set and the producers of the series stopped using individual years and lumped several years together. So today, we'll be hearing from the bands of Benny Goodman, Ralph Flanagan, Ted Heath, Count Basie and several others. There are some great songs in this set so lets...


"Into The 50's" Time Life - The Swing Era Part 1

This week I am going back to another set in the Time Life series "The Swing Era". Today's show focuses on songs from the the late 1940's and early 1950's. There are only a couple more volumes in this set and the producers of the series stopped using individual years and lumped several years together. So today, we'll be hearing from the bands of Tommy Dorsey, Stan Kenton, Glenn Miller, Harry James, Woody Herman, and Ted Heath and several others. There are some great songs in this set so lets...


Famous Ballrooms

Because we celebrated our nation's birthday this week, I went back to the Big Band Bash archives to pull out a show I recorded back in 2011. I think it is an interesting show and doesn't feature any one band. It was a show I did on some of the famous ballrooms that the big bands played at. Some of them were quite famous and a few are still around today. I have quite a few air checks in my collection so I tried to play selections from the ballrooms they were appearing at. We will learn about...


Count Basie - 1939

1939 was a great year for the Count Basie orchestra. This was the last year of their three year contract with Decca records where they would record many of their hits. He still had Lester Young, Buck Clayton, Jimmy Rushing and other original members in the band. He also had a great female vocalist in the band named Helen Humes. I have been listening to the Count Basie band since I was a teenage as my father had some Basie lps in his collection. I hope you enjoy this look at one recording...


Ray Anthony - Two Remotes

Ray Anthony has led a big band for many years starting in the late 1940's. He played trumpet in the original Glenn Miller orchestra and after the war started his own band. He has had a lot of first class musicians play in his band throughout the years. On the show today I found a remote which was part of the One Night Stand series. It was recorded at the Hollywood Palladium in the early 1950's. Then in the second half we'll be listening to some selections from an early television show that...


The Big Bands Play Richard Rodgers

Richard Rodgers was an American composer of music, with over 900 songs and 43 Broadway musicals, leaving a legacy as one of the most significant composers of 20th century American music. He is best known for his songwriting partnerships with the lyricists Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II. His music has been recorded by many different artists throughout the last century and into this one. On the show today, I thought it would be fun to listen to the great big bands interpret the music of...


Chick and Ella

In 1934 the Chick Webb orchestra was looking for a new singer. They hired a very young girl who had no big band singing experience. She developed into one of the greatest jazz singers in the world. On the show today I am going to be playing from a Mosaic records collection that feature all the recordings that Ella Fitzgerald made with the Chick Webb orchestra from 1934 to 1941. This is a fabulous collection and consists of 8 cds. I picked a sample of the selections from that set for the show...



When a band records a song that was made popular by another band the second band is said to be covering that song by the first band. For example when Benny Goodman recorded Frenesi that is a cover since it was a hit by Artie Shaw. Covers were very common in the big band years and I pulled out several that I found in my collection. There were many more available but I think you'll find it interesting to hear your favorite song done in a different way than the original. We'll be hearing from...


A Benny Goodman 109th Birthday Salute

May 30th, 1909 is the birthday of Benny Goodman and as I do every year I would like to pay a birthday salute to Benny. On the show today, I have picked out two radio remotes from when Benny and his orchestra were appearing at The Madhattan Room of the Hotel Pennsylvania in October of 1937. The first remote comes from October 20th and the second one from October 16th of 1937. There is some great music in these remotes and in addition to the orchestra we'll hear from Martha Tilton on vocals...


An Artie Shaw Birthday Salute

Artie Shaw was born on May 23, 1910. He was an American clarinetist, composer, bandleader, and actor. Also an author, Shaw wrote both fiction and non-fiction. Widely regarded as "one of jazz's finest clarinetists, Shaw led one of the United States' most popular big bands in the late 1930s through the early 1940s. As I do every year I would like to remember Artie on his birthday but instead of playing many of his hits I am going to be playing some of his recordings that feature the many...


Will Bradley and His Orchestra

Will Bradley along with drummer Ray McKinley led a very exciting band from 1939 to 1942. The Bradley band became well known for boogie-woogie, particularly its hit record, "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar" In 1942, McKinley departed to form his own band. Bradley hired trumpeter Shorty Rogers and drummer Shelly Manne, but many members wound up in the military due to the draft, and the band dissolved. On today's program we will take a look at and listen to many of those great Bradley...


They All Played Ellington

April 29, 1899 was the birthday of the pianist, composer and big band leader Duke Ellington. I've gone back into the Big Band Bash vault and pulled out a program featuring other bands playing Duke's music in honor of his birthday. It is interesting to hear songs that Ellington composed played by other bands. I produced this program about six years ago and haven't listened to it since then. I hope you enjoy this program of Ellington music as we celebrate Duke Ellington's birthday. Please...