[Dixielandjazz] Big bands - The Melody Maker

Tony Davis tony at tony-davis.co.uk
Mon Dec 29 14:51:40 PST 2003

An hour or two ago I wrote:

> A quick visual scan of the February issue failed to find a mention of Big
> Bands, but I'll carry out a more intensive search later...

Well, I now have a result.  On page 35, in a subsection of The Gramophone
Review headed "Instructive Records", I found this paragraph:

'The Kit-Cat Band has again scored with "The Camel Walk," which gives the lie
to those who say that a "big" band is unwieldy and not suitable for "dirt"

Now it is true that when the Melody Maker writers of 1926 use the word "big"
they usually mean it in the sense of "important", as in.'the big London bands'
(page 13 of the same issue) or "popular", as in 'that very big comedy number,
"My Girl's Got Long Hair"' (page 7).  I think it's clear, though, that in this
case the "big" refers to size, and further that the use of quotation marks
indicates that "big band" was a new phrase which hadn't yet passed into
common usage.

By the way, the other big comedy number of the time was "I've Never Wronged An
Onion" - if anyone has the lyrics and/or music to this I'd be fascinated to
see them!

Tony Davis
Harlem/Kaminsky Connection/Zenith Hot Stompers
Aston, Oxfordshire, UK

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