Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.


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.


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Good Morning Blues Book Reviews Good Morning Blues
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: January 11, 2018
Read The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums Book Reviews The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums
by Roger Crane
Published: December 19, 2017
Read Listening For The Secret: The Grateful Dead And The Politics Of Improvisation Book Reviews Listening For The Secret: The Grateful Dead And The...
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 10, 2017
Read "Nothing but Love in God's Water by Robert Darden" Book Reviews Nothing but Love in God's Water by Robert Darden
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Jazzing: New York City's Unseen Scene" Book Reviews Jazzing: New York City's Unseen Scene
by David A. Orthmann
Published: August 29, 2017
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