[Dixielandjazz] Re: "BIG BAND SHOWCASE"

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Dec 26 16:49:38 PST 2003

> "Bill Gunter" <jazzboard at hotmail.com> wrote
> Steve B. Wrote:
> >Big Band OKOM is alive and well.
> Couple of points:
> 1. I really don't think Big Band Music is "well."
> 2. I don't even think Big Band Music is "alive."
> 3. There was no "Big Band" music when Billie Holiday sang with Artie Shaw's
> band or when Harry James was recording prior to WWII!  In those days they
> were called "Orchestras."   Yes, they were "bands" and, yes, they were
> relatively "big" but they weren't called that!  The term "Big Band" came in
> after the war when the bands started to regroup but it was impossible to
> take a large orchestra on the road. The band members organized into smaller
> combos and travelled playing dates in casinos and clubs. When the occasion
> would arise that an entire orchestra was called for they would hire extra
> sidemen, dig out the charts and call themselves the "Glenn Miller (or
> whomever) Big Band" to distinguish it from the smaller groups currently
> touring.
> Respectfully submitted,
> Bill "picky picky picky" Gunter
> jazzboard at hotmail.com
> ps . . . other than that Big Band Music is alive and well.

Ah, true enough I suppose, especially the "picky, picky, picky" part. ;-)

But why be a grinch about it. The post is a plug for OKOMers to listen in. And
for anybody else who might be around, to listen in. Not to "define" it.

Denny Farrell is playing the music of "Big Bands" (as distinguished from small
bands by Bill G above). And that music is available for all who have computers to
hear. All the time. That's what is important. Spread the word, to LISTEN instead
of worrying about descriptions. Orchestra? Band? Heck in the 1900s, Buddy Bolden
led a six piece group which was called on more than one occasion, Buddy Bolden
And His Orchestra. So what?

I remember well, my days in my High School music program between WW 2 and the
Korean War. I played in both the High School Band and in the High School
Orchestra. What was the difference? The orchestra had strings and chose
"orchestral" music. Band (had no strings)

Orchestra v. Band? A moot point. Mostly a case of which "Kultur" one decides
upon. I have a photograph of the Paramount Marquee in NYC reading in LARGE,
brightly lit letters, "Tommy Dorsey and his Band". I suspect even then, the words
Band and Orchestra were somewhat interchangeable.

That they were not called Big Bands in 1939 or so is of little import. They are
called Big Bands now and that is what matters. Mr. Farrell's program is called
"Big Band Showcase" and that says it all, descriptively for most folks in the
world. They even refer to it as the "Big Band Era." And there are today, perhaps
as many "Big Band Societies" as there are Jazz Societies". So what is in a name?
How else could one define the music of which we speak today, that would possibly
make any sense?

And since there are people in this world listening to it, right now, Big Band
music must be alive and well as Bill states in his last sentence.

Certainly more so than the tree that proverbial tree falling in the forest where
nobody is around to hear it. ;-)

Duke Ellington kept his Big Band, oops Orchestra, working in total just about as
long as he lived. As did Ralph Flanagan, Ray Anthony, Vaughn Monroe, and many
others through the mid 1950s. The Glen Miller groups, et al, (after WW 2), were
"ghost bands" formed after his death and as Bill says, go out today, like Woody
Herman's band (orchestra?) led by Frank Tiberi, with a few main men and then hire
local kids to play the arrangements.

Count Basie was another one who kept his big band intact most of the time. I saw
him in the mid 1970s with a 16 piece band. No subs that night. Saw in him at the
restored Opera House in Lancaster PA, from one of those raised side boxes,
looking straight down on them. The 16 piece band swung it's butt off, accurately
for two hours, never once reading a note of music, or turning a page on the music
stands in front of them

Steve, Listen to the Program, call it what you will, Barbone

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