photo from nostalgic-radio.com
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Big Band and Vocalists
The Big Band. 18 musicians blaring away hot jazz charts. Big Bands ruled the radio waves during their hey day in the forties, and a few still play today. Jazz vocalists had been around before then, but truly flourished in the Big Band era. Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Billy Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Mel Torme and Dean Martin are a few. These vocalists kept alive the songwriting of America’s best songwriters, including Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Nelsen Riddle, and the Gershwins.
Listen to: Mel Torme, Tony Bennet, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Hartman, Ella Fitzgerald
Big Band Listen to: Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, Count Basie, Duke Elliington,
Be-bop and Hard Bop
Theories abound on the originators of bebop, but to make the story short, let’s follow the godfathers again. Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. These genius musicians took old jazz songs, and popular chords and melodies, and added complex chord changes and scales, while speeding up the tempo of the songs, improvising at lightning speed. This was genius music to listen to, not so great for dancing. In this incarnation, jazz was an art to be paid attention to, as opposed to the Big Bands that had people on their feet. Hard bop players arranged and played even more complex tunes to listen to.
Listen To: Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Clifford Brown, Dextor Gordon, Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt, JJ Johnson, Bud Powell