There was a period in the 1940’s to the early 50’s when British Big Bands ruled the air waves, sadly it seems to be a forgotten era in British music. What is interesting when I started to do my research on this time period is just how good the music really is, the first thing I did was to go and listen to a real live big band, and what hits you right away is the phenomenal sound they make with little or no amplification, then there is the sweet harmonies from the sax’s and horns. The absolute best thing though is the swing rhythm it’s so infectious you just want to move to the incredible rhythm they create.
I think what has influenced my generation is the very bad audio recording from that era, the rhythm section sounds okay, but they just didn’t have the technology in the 40’s and 50’s to truly get the sound of the sax’s, trombones and trumpet’s. I think the recorded sound improved when Frank Sinatra was with Capitol Records in 1955, it really does make a huge difference.
There is also a legacy that is generic to our popular culture, if you listen to Rock Around The Clock by Bill Haley and the Comets, you can still here the influence of the Big Band Era, it swings the same way the piano is a bit more up front, as is the guitar, the horns are still there but cut back, now we have Rock N’ Roll and another generation.
On WIKI there are 54 British Big Bands Listed and the name of the band leader, and I’m going to try and pick out my top ten favourites, I’ve already bought some Vinyl and CD’s, I’ve been listening to the CD’s in the car when I drive to gigs, I’m now totally into the music and really enjoying the adventure of a unique musical era in British music.
Just one little anecdotal story, when I was 15 the mid 1960’s and as far as I was concerned life began with the Beatles, I was in a full time job for only a few years as an apprentice, and I worked with a tradesman who was a trumpet player, who used to play with Joe Loss, it meant nothing to me plus I didn’t like the way the trumpet made a point on his to lip and you can’t play the trumpet and sing at the same time can you!
If I had been a bit more respectful I could have learned something from him. Now I don’t have any snobbery when it comes to music, we are all playing the same game, aren’t we.
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