Big Band

Jazz music community with reviews, MP3 (free download/stream) and forums

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 experimentation 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

STAN KENTON Adventures in Jazz Album Cover Adventures in Jazz
STAN KENTON
4.99 | 3 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
STAN KENTON Kenton in HI-FI Album Cover Kenton in HI-FI
STAN KENTON
4.98 | 3 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
STAN KENTON Standards in Silhouette Album Cover Standards in Silhouette
STAN KENTON
5.00 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
CAB CALLOWAY Hi De Hi De Ho Album Cover Hi De Hi De Ho
CAB CALLOWAY
5.00 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
BUDDY RICH Time Out Album Cover Time Out
BUDDY RICH
4.95 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
BUDDY RICH Big Swing Face Album Cover Big Swing Face
BUDDY RICH
4.95 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
STAN KENTON Stan Kenton Conducts the Jazz Compositions of Dee Barton Album Cover Stan Kenton Conducts the Jazz Compositions of Dee Barton
STAN KENTON
4.95 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
DUKE PEARSON Introducing Duke Pearson's Big Band Album Cover Introducing Duke Pearson's Big Band
DUKE PEARSON
4.90 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
DUKE PEARSON Sweet Honey Bee Album Cover Sweet Honey Bee
DUKE PEARSON
5.00 | 1 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
COUNT BASIE Count Basie and his Orchestra Album Cover Count Basie and his Orchestra
COUNT BASIE
5.00 | 1 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
BUDDY RICH Blues Caravan Album Cover Blues Caravan
BUDDY RICH
5.00 | 1 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
BUDDY RICH Big Band Machine Album Cover Big Band Machine
BUDDY RICH
5.00 | 1 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
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!

New big band free MP3/Stream

big band online videos

big band New Releases

.. Album Cover
Kenton Roars! At The Golden Lion
Live album
STAN KENTON
Buy this album from MMA partners
.. Album Cover
A Beautiful Friendship
Album
GARY URWIN
Buy this album from MMA partners
.. Album Cover
That's My Desire
Live album
LIONEL HAMPTON
Buy this album from MMA partners
.. Album Cover
The Treasury Shows
Boxset / Compilation
DUKE ELLINGTON
Buy this album from MMA partners
.. Album Cover
The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy
Album
TOMMY IGOE'S BIRDLAND BIG BAND
Buy this album from MMA partners
.. Album Cover
Full-On!
Album
CHRIS WALDEN
Buy this album from MMA partners
.. Album Cover
Relentless
Album
MICHAEL DEASE
Buy this album from MMA partners
.. Album Cover
Chermoula
Album
JAMES MORRISON
Buy this album from MMA partners
.. Album Cover
Acme Jazz Company
Album
ACME JAZZ COMPANY
Buy this album from MMA partners
.. Album Cover
The Prescription
Album
LENNY PICKETT
Buy this album from MMA partners
.. Album Cover
Strength In Numbers
Album
PETE MCGUINNESS
Buy this album from MMA partners
.. Album Cover
America The Beautiful
Album
ALAN BROADBENT
Buy this album from MMA partners
.. Album Cover
Petite Fleur
Album
CHRISTOF LAUER
Buy this album from MMA partners
.. Album Cover
The L.A. Treasures Project
Live album
CLAYTON - HAMILTON JAZZ ORCHESTRA
Buy this album from MMA partners
.. Album Cover
Special Opinion
Album
NICK LEVINOVSKY
Buy this album from MMA partners
.. Album Cover
Caravan
Album
DAVE CHAMBERLIN'S BAND OF BONES
Buy this album from MMA partners
.. Album Cover
Road Scholars (Live)
Live album
STAN KENTON ALUMNI BAND
Buy this album from MMA partners

big band Music Reviews

CAB CALLOWAY Hi De Hi De Ho

Album · 1960 · Big Band
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Matt
It all kicked off for Cab Calloway back in 1931 even though his Orchestra previously known as The Missourians started going in 1930 when Cab took over the reins, it was the release of that all time song which today is still played and listened too by many, being “Minnie The Moocher” . Cab’s Orchestra had been opening for Duke Ellington around the same time as well performing with him in the most famous Jazz Club in history, The Cotton Club. Duke and his Orchestra often toured and had time off which was no problem for Cab as he then headlined at that Club which also broadcast it’s shows over the radio live, so many Americans were exposed to this wonderful style and approach Cab Calloway possessed. He was man of so many talents, not only did he sing, lead the orchestra, he danced like no other except for maybe Bojangles. Cab showed Michael Jackson how to do it with “The Buzz” because Cab was going backwards looooooong before Mike with his “Moonwalk”. Not only that Cab was wonderful on stage and nobody played “Sportin’ Life” from “Porgy and Bess” like Cab, after all having sung “Reefer Man with his Orchestra in the thirties, playing a dope peddler was right up Cab’s alley “so to speak” (the part was written with Cab in mind for the role), which he played on Broadway and toured throughout the time of the production during the fifties.

“The Hi De Ho Man” is another one of those Calloway songs that is instantly recognisable and many a different take Cab recorded with the tune, ( “Hi De Ho Miracle Man, Hi De Ho, Romeo and Juliet, and Hi De Ho Serenade”). “Kickin’ The Gong Around” was another Minnie, “Wah-Dee-Dah” ,” Zah Zuh Zah” were a couple more songs from many and all had one thing in common with the singing, being Scat which derived from Louis Armstrong’s influence. There was a term used by Cab Calloway to describe his music being Jive and there is plenty of that here, with a few ballads thrown in with the release of his 1960 album “Hi De Hi De Ho”. They all said at the time with the album’s reception, ”the originals were better” from his Big Band period in the thirties but once again, time has proven those critics wrong. They should of read from Cab’s “Hepsters Dictionary” which Cab to put together so all could speak or understand Jive talk. Some people are born with a gift commonly called charisma and Cab used this to great effect in all facets of his artistic skills which turned him into one hell of a showman.

The album backed by Cab’s Orchestra comprises many of his most famous song’s and all today are Jazz Standards with two song selections included that are from the Gershwins’ “Porgy And Bess” but it is the title “Hi De Ho Man” which opens the album with scat from beginning to end, delivered with plenty of that Cab gusto and one must realise the song’s opening scat is almost impossible to put in writing. Throughout the album the Orchestra’s backing vocals esp. during these Jive tracks provide a wonderful repetition throughout the Chorus’. “I’ll Be Around” is a beautiful Alec Wilder ballad being sung in a slight formal manner which just seems to make it even sweeter. “Summertime” the old chestnut of a tune from “Porgy and Bess” is given the perfect touch from Cab and although his character did not sing this one in the Production, Cab sure delivers it beautifully. Sportin’ Life (Porgy and Bess, Cab’s character) sings the next of the album’s tracks being “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and with a beautiful low verse and muted trumpet backing, co- joined by a much different raucous take of a chorus and even a bit scat thrown in by Cab for good measure and is another of the album’s delights. “Kickin’ The Gong Around” is the answer for “Minnie The Moocher” . The last track on the record’s first side is an absolutely full swing approach to that old Jazz classic “You Rascal You”. “Minnie The Moocher” opens side two with a wonderful rendition, followed by another beautiful ballad “I See a Million People”. Another all time Jazz classic is next, given a wonderful touch as well being one of Cab’s old hits, “Saint James Infirmary”. Cab had worked with Al Jolson and often when I hear “Stormy Weather” I sense Al’s influence but Cab had that Black American touch bringing a wonderful interpretation to this beautiful Jazz standard and even though it is hard to find an album highlight due to the fact all the songs are within, “Stormy Weather” just seems to always bring me a smile. “The Jumpin’ Jive” finishes up with “The Jim Jim jump is a jumpin’ jive, makes you hip hip on the mellow side, oh hop do do di, etc”

Classic Jazz from one of the original masters. Believe it or not, this is not currently available on cd but the record has been reissued. “Grab one before they all go” No matter how old you are, you will be smiling after.

FLETCHER HENDERSON A Study in Frustration

Boxset / Compilation · 1961 · Big Band
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
js
“A Study in Frustration” is an oddly titled four LP collection of the music of Fletcher Henderson put out by Columbia in 1961. It was also re-issued on CD in the 90s. Its an odd title because Henderson is one of the most important and successful figures in jazz. Although his name may not be as well-known as Duke Ellington, Louie Armstrong and Charlie Parker, he probably ranks only behind that big three when it comes to his importance in innovations that furthered the development of jazz. The excellent booklet that accompanies this box set spends some time speculating that Henderson could have been more successful with better marketing, hence the rather harsh and undeserved title for this production.

Fletcher Henderson is the big band leader who has been given the most credit for taking jazz from its rough hewn and mostly group improvised New Orleans beginnings, to being a music performed by a big band reading complex written arrangements that featured hot soloists such as Louie Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins. This entire collection spans from 1924 to 1937, but its that period from the 20s to the early 30s that makes up most of this set, and that's the period with the most interesting music as well. Fletcher Henderson was the master of 1920s jazz (also called ‘Classic Jazz‘), a style of jazz that exists in a world all its own, markedly different from the New Orleans jazz that preceded it, and the swing jazz that will follow in the mid-30s. 1920s jazz has a rapid flow in which ideas appear and are quickly discarded, sometimes in almost comical flippancy. The hectic herky-jerky rhythms are very urban in nature and reflect the constant bustle of city life, which was a new environment to many in the US at this time. Many a 1920s jazz arranger, such as the great Don Redman who worked for Henderson in the late 20s, was proud of their ability to experiment in their arrangements, often borrowing the latest harmonic developments coming from the leading concert hall composers of the time. Finally, this was a music for hipsters and wannabe gangsters, modernistic in its appeal, there was nothing sentimental about this music. With its comprehensive 64 tracks, “A Study in Frustration” makes for an excellent way to explore this very vibrant and fast moving period in jazz history.

If this review stopped here you would be correct to think that this is an easy 5 star collection, but there are some problems. At this point I have to credit a certain Steve Espinola who has taken the time to uncover editing problems in this collection. Apparently there are two main mastering sources for these old Henderson tunes. One source of masters is by an engineer for Columbia who decided to edit out any ticks by actually removing that part of the tape, a horrible idea that makes the music spasmodically lurch forward in some places. Some of these edits are more noticeable than others, and several tunes may pass before you notice, but when you do hear it, it sounds like the whole band just had a collective hiccup. This same engineer also tried to remove surface noise with severe eq techniques as well. These, of course, are the masters that were used for “Frustration”, as well as some other Henderson collections. Apparently there are some better masters by a John R. T. Davies, that are used in other collections (such as the Timeless label).

To sum all this up, despite the problems, this is an incredible collection and if you find it on vinyl for a very good price (as I did) then you have a good deal. But, if you are looking at the CD collection, because of the bad mastering, it seems there are probably better CD collections to be had.

DIZZY GILLESPIE Diz 'N Bird At Carnegie Hall (with Charlie Parker)

Live album · 1997 · Big Band
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
js
A short review of “Diz n’ Bird at Carnegie Hall” could sum things up nicely by providing that this is a one star recording of a five star performance. The performance in question took place on Sept 29, 1947 at Carnegie Hall and featured an opening set by Diz and Bird as a quintet, which was followed by Dizzy’s big band. Ella Fitzgerald also performed that night, but she does not appear on the album. The Parker/Gillespie set presented on here consists of five tunes, followed by another ten for Dizzy’s big band. Those five opening tunes by the quintet are the highlight, Parker’s playing is absolutely phenomenal, some of his best ever captured on a recording. Also, the bad sound issues are not nearly as bothersome with the smaller group than with the full orchestra that will follow.

The ten big band tunes that follow are all great, but the recording issues make them hard to listen to. It sounds like there were no special recording mics set up, instead it seems everything is being recorded possibly by one PA mic which was probably set in front of the whole band with the intent of amplifying whoever is the soloist. Needless to say, whenever a soloist leans to heavily into the mic, much of the rest of the band fades to the background. Even without a loud soloist, the balance between band sections is awful with the trumpet section blowing every one off of the recording. Its unfortunate these tunes weren’t recorded better, because many are great. Some highlights include George Russell’s modern pointillist arrangement of “Relaxin at Camarillo”, John Lewis’ early 3rd stream experiment , “Toccata for Trumpet”, and the high speed scatter of “Things to Come”. Overall Gillespie’s band is not about the subtle tone colors of Ellington, or the relentless groove of Basie, but instead is all about hot fiery energy, Latin rhythms and a screaming trumpet section.

This CD isn’t for everyone, but Parker fans may want to get this for the first five cuts which really capture the special sparks that would fly whenever Bird n’ Diz hit the stage together. The rest of the album could be interesting to Dizzy and big band fans who want to hear what Dizzy’s innovative orchestra was up to during this time period. As a good example of the sound issues on this recording, the great John Lewis plays piano in both groups, but I doubt you will be able to hear much of what he plays.

QUINCY JONES The Great Wide World Of Quincy Jones

Album · 1959 · Big Band
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
js
In 1959 Quincy Jones’ career was still young, but he had already established himself as the new leader in the world of big band jazz. “The Great Wide World of Quincy Jones” was approximately Jones’ fourth or fifth album (depending on who is counting) and has him featuring a sound that was becoming familiar by now. Oddly enough, Jones is only the conductor on here, but the arrangements by Al Cohn, Bill Potts, Ernie Wilkins and Ralph Burns sound very much like Jones with their bright bold sounds and shimmering optimistic energy. In the late 50s, the Quincy Jones sound was fast becoming the sound of commercials, movie, TV, Vegas and background music of any type, and his sound continued to be influential well into the 80s. These days, Quincy’s 60s sounds are often the sound of choice for those who seek retro-chic hipness.

There are so many good tunes on here, but some standouts include the high flying energy of “Air Mail Special” and the striking melancholy tune of “I Never has Seen Snow”. “Chant of the Weed” sounds like a typical theme for a early 60s sit-com, and a great example of how pervasive Quincy’s influence was/is. There are also plenty of good soloists including Phil Woods, Budd Johnson, Art Farmer and Lee Morgan. The only possible drawback is the revved up version of “Caravan”. It’s a song that’s covered too many times to begin with, and this overly charged up version pales in comparison to Ellington’s very odd and murkily exotic original. This is one tune where Jones’ extroverted sound just doesn’t seem like the right fit.

Fans of modern (post swing era) big bands will want to get this. Quincy Jones was really onto something when he first hit the scene, but unfortunately it did not last for ever, soon after this record and a couple more like it, he will leave big band jazz for the more lucrative world of pop and studio work.

QUINCY JONES This Is How I Feel About Jazz

Album · 1957 · Big Band
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
js
“This is How I Feel About Jazz” was Quicy Jones’ debut LP way back in 1957. It may be hard for some to believe that this eventual king of pop was once totally immersed in the world of jazz, but listening to any of his modern pop albums will reveal the techniques he learned while he was one of the top jazz arrangers. This is an excellent album, especially for being someone’s initial effort. Choosing to open with Miles’ “Walkin” sets the tone for the LP, east coast sophisticated urban blues meets west coast laid back cool. Jones’ big band sound is rooted in the soul of Ellington and Basie, but modernized with a smart economical approach that favors light and slightly odd instrumental mixtures. It was, and in many ways still is, the essence of sophisticated hip. This sound that Jones will develop alongside fellow arrangers, such as Henry Mancicni and Lalo Schifrin, will become the sound of better TV and movie soundtracks for several decades to come. Its interesting to note that at this time in history, the role of the jazz big band had changed from dancing and entertainment to being a sort of colorful orchestra for the arranger‘s creativity, which led to the big band’s new career as a supplier for many a Hollywood soundtrack, especially in the brand new world of TV.

One of the big pluses on “How I Feel About Jazz” is the all-star cast of musicians, Mingus or Paul Chambers on bass, Art Farmer on trumpet, Zoot Sims and Phil Woods on sax and Herbie Mann on flute, plus many more. There are plenty of great solos on here, plus its interesting to listen to Herbie Mann and Mingus duet on the opening of “A Sleeping Bee”. Overall this is a fairly laid back album with no particular stand out tracks, later Jones albums will sometimes work up more of a sweat. If there is one drawback, it is the brevity of this LP. Still, this is recommended for fans of late 50s-60s jazz big bands, as well as fans of soundtrack work from that same era.

big band movie reviews

No big band movie reviews posted yet.

Artists with Big Band release(s)

JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
Kind of Blue Cool Jazz
MILES DAVIS
Buy this album from our partners
A Love Supreme Post Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
Buy this album from our partners
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Post Bop
CHARLES MINGUS
Buy this album from our partners
'Out to Lunch!' Avant-Garde Jazz
ERIC DOLPHY
Buy this album from our partners
Giant Steps Hard Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
Buy this album from our partners

New Jazz Artists

New Jazz Releases

Embrace Me Vocal Jazz
ANTONIA BENNETT
Buy this album from MMA partners
Somethin' Good Jazz Related RnB
MARK MEADOWS
Buy this album from MMA partners
Live Post-Fusion Contemporary
PAUL WILLIAMSON (TRUMPET)
Buy this album from MMA partners
The Monash Sessions Post Bop
ENRICO RAVA
Buy this album from MMA partners
More new releases

New Free Jazz MP3 download/stream

New Jazz Online Videos

Antonia Bennett "Every Time We Say Goodbye"
ANTONIA BENNETT
js· 2 hours ago
Theme for Jessica
ENRICO RAVA
js· 19 hours ago
EPK Talisman Sammy Figueroa e Glaucia Nasser
SAMMY FIGUEROA
js· 19 hours ago
More videos

New JMA Jazz Forum Topics

More in the forums

New Site interactions

More...

Latest Jazz News

members-submitted

More in the forums

Social Media

Share this site
Follow us