[Dixielandjazz] Big Bands

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Dec 29 21:14:06 PST 2003

Got to thinking about Big Bands and realized that here in the
Philadelphia area, there are many more big bands than Dixieland Bands.
For example within 50 miles of center city Philadelphia, bands that I
can name off hand are:

Audubon Jazz Explosion:  18 piece Swing, / Modern / Kenton
Criterions: 16 to 18 piece W. Chester U Alumni Swing / Modern / Kenton
West Chester Swing Band: 16 to 18 piece Swing / Popular Music of the 30s
to 60s.
Big Band From The Valley: ditto above
Brian Pastor Band 16 piece Swing / Modern / Kenton
City Rhythm Orchestra: Swing15 to 18 piece / Modern / Kenton
Rhythm Doctors: Swing
Phil Giordano's Big Band; Swing / Modern
Walt Wagner Big Swing Band 18 piece Swing
Joe Sudler Big Swing Machine 16 piece Swing
Philadelphia Legends of Jazz Orchestra 16 piece Modern

These are all in Pennsylvania or Delaware and there must be more in
South New Jersey like the Midiri Brothers Big Band, in Atlantic City

And if one "googles" for "Swing Bands + your city" you are bound to find
a bunch more in your local area.

Plus, every College / University with a strong music program has a big
jazz band.

Plus possibly as many as 30% of the high schools in the USA have a
student jazz band.

Plus the nationally knowns like Brian Setzer's Big Band.

What does that tell me? That "Big Band" is alive and well. It is we, who
don't realize it or recognize it that are in trouble, sick or dying.

It is just a different form of Big Band Music. Not Tommy Dorsey, or
Glenn Miller, or Benny Goodman on a national scene, but THOUSANDS of big
bands on a local scene.

Part of the trouble is that we are so old and blinded by our narrow
minds that we do not see or hear the big bands that are all around us.
When's the last time we saw our local high school Big Jazz Band, or our
local College Big Jazz Band, or that Swing Band right around the corner?

It is not that we don't have kids playing big band music these days, it
is that we oldsters are not even aware of what the hell is going on
around us musically.


PS. And don't forget to tune the TV on the Mummers Parade from
Philadelphia on New years Day. Do not miss those 25 or so "Big String
Bands" that perform late in the event. Usually about 50 pieces evenly
split between Saxophones and gasp., choke, Banjos. Stuff like Golden
Slippers, Avalon, Alabama Jubilee, Four Leaf Clover, World Is Waiting
For The Sunrise etc. Yes, Philadelphia is also the banjo playing capitol
of the world which is why they are Big "String" Bands ;-)

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