Big Band

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The Big Band genre at JMA is for large ensembles (generally ten or more musicians) who play in what best can be called a "big band style". The big band style involves breaking the large ensemble into separate sections, usually grouped by instrument, that then engage in call and response type figures with each other. These motifs can be arranged or improvised. The big band arranging style can also use repeating interlocking riffs by the various sections that provide a rhythmic groove for soloists. Early innovators in big band music include Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Benny Goodman. Modern big band leaders include Quincy Jones and Maynard Ferguson.

The Big Band genre at JMA also includes jazz influenced pop orchetra leaders such as Paul Whiteman, Glen Miller and the Dorsey Brothers. Modern big bands that are influenced by avant-garde music, 3rd stream music or other types of modern elements can be found in the Progressive Big Band genre.

big band top albums

Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 24 hours caching

CAB CALLOWAY Hi De Hi De Ho Album Cover Hi De Hi De Ho
CAB CALLOWAY
5.00 | 4 ratings
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BUDDY RICH Rich in London (aka Very Alive at Ronnie Scott's aka At Ronnie Scotts) Album Cover Rich in London (aka Very Alive at Ronnie Scott's aka At Ronnie Scotts)
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5.00 | 3 ratings
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DUKE ELLINGTON Ellington At Newport Complete Album Cover Ellington At Newport Complete
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4.98 | 3 ratings
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BUDDY RICH No Funny Hats Album Cover No Funny Hats
BUDDY RICH
5.00 | 2 ratings
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BUDDY RICH The Man From Planet Jazz (aka Live at Ronnie Scott's) Album Cover The Man From Planet Jazz (aka Live at Ronnie Scott's)
BUDDY RICH
4.95 | 2 ratings
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OLIVER NELSON The Blues and the Abstract Truth Album Cover The Blues and the Abstract Truth
OLIVER NELSON
4.74 | 8 ratings
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DUKE PEARSON Introducing Duke Pearson's Big Band Album Cover Introducing Duke Pearson's Big Band
DUKE PEARSON
4.75 | 3 ratings
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BUDDY RICH Time Out Album Cover Time Out
BUDDY RICH
4.67 | 3 ratings
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FREDDIE HUBBARD The Body & The Soul (aka Skylark) Album Cover The Body & The Soul (aka Skylark)
FREDDIE HUBBARD
4.59 | 8 ratings
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BUDDY RICH Mercy, Mercy Album Cover Mercy, Mercy
BUDDY RICH
4.62 | 4 ratings
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STAN KENTON Adventures in Jazz Album Cover Adventures in Jazz
STAN KENTON
4.58 | 3 ratings
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STAN KENTON Standards in Silhouette Album Cover Standards in Silhouette
STAN KENTON
4.50 | 4 ratings
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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy JMA!

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big band Music Reviews

THE FOURTEEN JAZZ ORCHESTRA (THE 14 JAZZ ORCHESTRA) Islands

Album · 2023 · Big Band
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js
“Islands” is the fourth album by The 14 Jazz Orchestra, and it finds them going in a slightly different direction this time around. Previous albums by Dan Bonsanti’s 14 piece ensemble were in more of a bop/post bop direction, with this new one, Dan takes his crew on a more contemporary journey with nods to radio friendly fusion and lots of Latin grooves, but still some boppish swing here and there as well. The orchestrations on here tend away from the sectional call and response typical of bop big bands, and lean more towards delicate tone colors that recall Gil Evans, Maurice Ravel, and possibly classic lounge arrangers like Henry Mancini or Les Baxter. Energy wise, “Islands” has a nice balance between mellow ballad material and more high energy blowing sessions. Lots of high profile special guests on here as well, including; Mark Egan, Peter Erskine, Will Lee, Dave Liebman and Mike Mainieri.

You definitely get some musical variety on this album. “Loft Dance” is high energy Brazilian fusion and features the well known soaring soprano saxophone of Dave Liebman. “Missouri Uncompromised” is a Pat Metheny composition with modulating chord progressions with a prog rock flavor. “Bud Powell” is the bebop track and features hot solos on sax, trumpet and piano. “Man from Tanganyika” veers between Latin jazz and hard bop and has tenor saxophonist Ed Calle displaying his Coltrane like sheets of sound soloing technique. On a more mellow note, “Jitterbug Waltz” has fascinating voicings from a trio of flautists. Closing out the album is a beautiful pop ballad, “When She Loved Me”, which Dan dedicates to his brother Neal, who passed away just before he had a chance to perform on this album.

THE FOURTEEN JAZZ ORCHESTRA (THE 14 JAZZ ORCHESTRA) Cartoon Bebop

Album · 2021 · Big Band
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Dan Bonsanti is a music educator and arranger working out of the Miami area for several decades now. Since 2015 he started a big band project called The 14 Jazz Orchestra, so named for the number of musicians in the band for performances. “Cartoon Bebop” is the band’s third album, and although the album title might imply some silliness, and the band does seem to have a lot of fun, but this album is mostly really solid contemporary big band arrangements and musicianship. Usually the band relies solely on local Miami players, but due to Covid, Dan had to reach out to musicians all around the country to complete this online endeavor. Although the parts were recorded separately using remote methods, you would not be able to tell unless someone told you. All of the performances are as lively and kinetic as you would get if all the players were assembled in one room.

The opening title track gets its name from the fact that the main theme borrows from the well known Bullwinkle and Rocky cartoon theme. Oddly enough, it ends up sounding like late 70s Weather Report, which is furthered by the fact that Peter Erskine from WR supplies the drum beat and Dan used to work with Jaco in big band settings. “Got a Match” is blazing fast bebop and features a furious sax solo from Ed Calle, who throws in a few Yardbird clichés, but often recalls Randy Brecker. Misturada and Dayride have Latin flavors that fit this band well and it would have been nice if Cisco Dimas’ trumpet solo could have gone on a little longer. “Driftin”, by Herbie Hancock, sports an arrangement that is a dead ringer for Quincy Jones, and “A Day Tripper’s Blues Buffet contorts the well known Beatles melody into a Texas blues shuffle with Lindsey Blair filling in for Stevie Ray Vaughn or Billy Gibbons.

Not everything on here is high energy, Bonsanti also includes a few ballads and waltzes to show off his use of tone colors that tend toward light, transparent textures, not heavy big band bombast. Of the mellower tracks, Chick Corea’s “Duende” carries dark noir sound colors and Wayme Shorter’s “Infant Eye’s” strikes an air of mystery with its exotic guitar melody. Its very impressive that Bonsanti and crew pulled off such a warm and energetic performance while recording by remote.

FREDDIE HUBBARD The Body & The Soul (aka Skylark)

Album · 1963 · Big Band
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Mssr_Renard
Because of all the famous records on Blue Note and the countless Jazz Messengers' albums, I have the feeling the Impulse-albums of Hubbard (this one and The Artistry of..) are kind of overlooked.

This one is a special record, not in the sense that it is out there, but it's just so perfectly crafted.

Here, Freddie's good friend and fellow-messenger Wayne Shorter arranged 6 of the 9 compositions for brass and even strings. Because Shorter is the leader, Freddie can focus on his solo, wich are a-plenty.

Also the featured musicians are wonderful, some great swinging drumming from Philly Jo Jones, some great soloing from yet another Messenger, Cedar Walton, there's even a manic alto-solo from Dolphy on Clarence Place.

All compositions are rather straight forward and easy to grasp, but it is all so beautifully arranged and played. It's not standard hardbop either, more a big band affair. Shorter and Hubbard, really show how good a duo they are. The production is very goofld aswell.

DAVID BLOOM David Bloom and Cliff Colnot : Shadow Of A Soul

Album · 2022 · Big Band
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“Shadow of a Soul” is the fourth album by composer David Bloom, and just like on his three previous albums, he has enlisted Cliff Colnot to provide arrangements. These two make quite a team, its hard to put an exact genre on their work, big band arranging is the closest you can get, but this is much more than just that. The ensembles on “Shadow” range from big bands to smaller groups with very unique instrumental groupings. Every single piece on here has its own ensemble and tone colors, and the musical influences range from contemporary jazz to art pop and soundtracks, as well as impressionistic classical music. Most of the pieces are fairly short, never much longer than five minutes, with some being only a minute or two which gives the album an appealing library music type effect. Brevity is a rare thing in the world of jazz.

Latin rhythms play a big part on some of the best tracks. “For Eddie P” features Afro-Cuban rhythms in a tribute to Eddie Palmieri, and pianist Ryan Cohan does a great job of channeling Eddie’s fierce and dissonant piano barrages. Ryan is also featured on other tracks as well. Some other Latin tracks feature the saxophone work of Mike Smith and the bright high end trumpet work of Victor Garcia. Besides the Latin numbers, you also get tone poems that recall the pastoral work of Gil Evans and Marie Schneider. Alto flutes are often featured in the melodies, delivering their signature smooth sound.

Bloom lists Wayne Shorter as a major compositional influence, and album opener “Mischievous Mark Colby”, could pass as a Shorter piece, particularly when Dave Liebman delivers an imaginative soprano sax solo. Dave also appears on the album’s title track as well. You could call much of this album ‘big band’ music, but ultimately this is contemporary instrumental music that draws on many influences and sound colors.

DAVID ANGEL Out on the Coast

Album · 2021 · Big Band
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This week’s installment on jazz musicians who deserve more recognition goes to composer and arranger David Angel. As orchestrator Brad Dechter put it, “David Angel is quite possibly the best composer you have never heard of “. You may not know David by name, but you have probably heard his music in countless TV shows and movies including a long running gig on “Bonanza” that started when David was only 21. Along with his work as soundtrack composer and educator, David has also been running a big band rehearsal group out of Los Angeles since 1969. A remarkable number of big name artists have passed through that band including George Bohannon, Bud Shank, Bob Brookmeyer, Art Pepper, Victor Feldman and many more. Given how long Angel has been running this project it comes as a surprise that prior to this year Angel had only one album out as a leader. Long time associate and horn player Jim Self decided it was time to get more of Angel’s music out to the public so he organized this extensive recording project that resulted in the three CD, “Out on the Coast”.

David’s music is very west coast, with a typical track rolling along in a relaxed swing feel, but there is variety too with Latin numbers, waltzes, ballads and blues too. David’s forte is contrapuntal arranging in which intertwining voices twist around each other in kaleidoscope textures. These arrangements will often continue even while the soloists stretch out providing interesting tone colors to counter the solos. David cites French impressionists such as Ravel and Debussy as major influences, as well as early ‘cool’ proponents such as Gerry Mulligan and Gil Evans, and of course the Duke.

Most of these tracks are David Angel originals with a few covers thrown in as well. Of the originals, some standouts include a Quincy Jones sounding bluesy jam session called “Ah Rite” and “Out on the Coast 3” on which the two flutes melody recalls kitsch TV soundtrack music from the 60s. There are also several lengthy suite like numbers on which David displays his ability to bring different moods to one piece of music. Of the covers, Ellington’s “Prelude to a Kiss” features alto saxophonist Gene Cipriano channeling Johnny Hodges to make this one really come alive with the spirit of the Duke’s long running band. Also from the Ellington repertoire we get French horn soloist Stephanie O’Keefe doing an excellent job on Billy Stray horn’s “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing”.

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Artists with Big Band release(s)

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