235

American Big Bands

David Rickert By

Sign in to view read count
American Big Bands
William F. Lee
Paperback; 480 pages
Hal Leonard Publishing
ISBN: 0634080547

During the big band heyday of the thirties and forties there were thousands of bands playing around the country, saturating dance halls and the radio waves and entertaining people of all walks of life. Keeping track of all these bands is a daunting task, one that hasn't been attempted until now. William Lee has compiled American Big Bands, an encyclopedia reference to the great performers that gave so many people a reason to dance.

Lee has organized his book based on the decade in which bands were founded, instead of alphabetically or based on the height of each band's popularity. Therefore, you may have to use the index to locate a particular performer if you're not sure if the date they were originally performed. Also, Lee's book is not really meant for browsing. The biographies are bare boned, featuring a brief biography, notable players and venues and not much else. As bedside table reading, it's a bore, but as a reference guide to the vast number of big bands performing, it's an invaluable reference.

A quick flip through the book will uncover some little known yet worthy big band leaders tucked away in between Dorsey and Miller. Lee has also documented those bands that have been formed long after the public turned their attention away from big band to bebop and the Beatles.

Some may quibble about the lack of usefulness of the entries, griping about the lack of a discography or, in most cases, notable performances or recordings. And undoubtedly some great regional bands have been left out of the mix. However, Lee has done a great job at what he set out to do—provide a reference guide that sorts out all the bands that helped make jazz a national phenomenon.


Shop

More Articles

Read "The Blues: Why It Still Hurts So Good" Book Reviews The Blues: Why It Still Hurts So Good
by Doug Collette
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie" Book Reviews Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 25, 2016
Read "The Real Dixieland Book / Tunes Of The Twenties" Book Reviews The Real Dixieland Book / Tunes Of The Twenties
by Budd Kopman
Published: April 3, 2016
Read "The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1965" Book Reviews The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1965
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 11, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!