Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974) was an American composer, pianist, and big band leader. Duke Ellington became one of the most influential artists in the history of recorded music, and is largely recognized as one of the greatest figures in the history of jazz, though his music stretched into various other genres, including blues, gospel, movie soundtracks, popular, and classical.
Benjamin David Goodman (May 30, 1909 – June 13, 1986) was an American jazz musician, clarinetist and bandleader, known as "King of Swing", "Patriarch of the Clarinet", "The Professor", and "Swing's Senior Statesman". In the mid-1930s, Goodman led one of the most popular musical groups in America.
Alton Glenn Miller (March 1, 1904 – missing December 15, 1944), was an American jazz musician, arranger, composer, and bandleader in the swing era. He was one of the best-selling recording artists from 1939 to 1943, leading one of the best known "Big bands". Miller's signature recordings include In the Mood, American Patrol, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Tuxedo Junction, Moonlight Serenade, Little Brown Jug and Pennsylvania 6-5000. While traveling to entertain U.S.
William "Count" Basie (August 21, 1904 – April 26, 1984) was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer. Widely regarded as one of the most important jazz bandleaders of his time, Basie led his popular Count Basie Orchestra for almost 50 years. Many notable musicians came to prominence under his direction, including tenor saxophonists Lester Young and Herschel Evans, trumpeters Buck Clayton and Harry "Sweets" Edison and singers Jimmy Rushing and Joe Williams.
Lionel Leo Hampton (April 20, 1908 – August 31, 2002) was an American jazz vibraphonist, pianist, percussionist, bandleader and actor. Like Red Norvo, he was one of the first jazz vibraphone players. Hampton ranks among the great names in jazz history, having worked with a who's who of jazz musicians, from Benny Goodman and Buddy Rich to Charlie Parker and Quincy Jones. In 1992, he was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
Louis Prima (7 December 1910 – 24 August 1978) was an Italian-American singer, actor, songwriter, and trumpeter. Prima rode the musical trends of his time, starting with his seven-piece New Orleans style jazz band in the 1920s, then successively leading a swing combo in the 1930s, a big band in the 1940s, a Vegas lounge act in the 1950s, and a pop-rock band in the 1960s. In each of his musical endeavors, he incorporated his exuberant personality into his act.
Les Brown, Sr. (March 14, 1912 – January 4, 2001) and the Band of Renown are a big band that began in the late 1930s, initially as the group Les Brown and His Blue Devils that Brown led while a student at Duke University. The band now performs under the direction of his son Les Brown, Jr.
Cabell "Cab" Calloway III (December 25, 1907 – November 18, 1994) was an American jazz singer and bandleader. Calloway was a master of energetic scat singing and led one of the United States' most popular African American big bands from the start of the 1930s through the late 1940s.
Fletcher Hamilton Henderson, Jr. (December 18, 1897 – December 28, 1952) was an American pianist, bandleader, arranger and composer, important in the development of big band jazz and swing music. His was one of the most prolific black orchestras and his influence was vast. He was often known as "Smack" Henderson.
Albany Leon Bigard (March 3, 1906 – June 27, 1980), aka Barney Bigard, was an American jazz clarinetist and tenor saxophonist, though primarily known for the clarinet. Bigard was born in New Orleans and studied music and clarinet with Lorenzo Tio. He moved to Chicago in the early 1920s, where he worked with Joe "King" Oliver and others.
Thomas Francis Dorsey (November 19, 1905 – November 26, 1956) was an American jazz trombonist, trumpeter, composer, and bandleader of the Big Band era. He was known as "The Sentimental Gentleman of Swing".. He was the younger brother of bandleader Jimmy Dorsey. After Dorsey broke with his brother in the mid thirties, he led an extremely popular band from the late thirties into the nineteen fifties. Dorsey disliked improvisation and had a reputation for being a perfectionist.
Harry Haag James (March 15, 1916 – July 5, 1983) was an American musician and bandleader. James was an instrumentalist of the swing era, employing a bravura playing style that made his trumpet work identifiable. He was one of the most-popular bandleaders of the first half of the 1940s, and he continued to lead his band until just before his death, 40 years later.
Arthur Jacob Arshawsky (May 23, 1910 – December 30, 2004), better known as Artie Shaw, was an American jazz clarinetist, composer, and bandleader. He is also the author of both fiction and non-fiction writings.
Lucius Venable "Lucky" Millinder (August 8, 1910 – September 28, 1966) was an American rhythm and blues and swing bandleader. Although he could not read or write music, did not play an instrument and rarely sang, his showmanship and musical taste made his bands successful. His group was said to have been the greatest big band to play rhythm and blues, and gave a break to a number of influential musicians at the dawn of the rock and roll era.
Bennett Lester Carter (August 8, 1907 - July 12, 2003) was an American jazz alto saxophonist, clarinetist, trumpeter, composer, arranger, and bandleader. He was a major figure in jazz from the 1930s to the 1990s, and was recognized as such by other jazz musicians who called him King In 1958, he performed with Billie Holiday at the legendary Monterey Jazz Festival. The National Endowment for the Arts honored Benny Carter with its highest honor in jazz, the NEA Jazz Masters Award for 1986.
Charles Daly Barnet (October 26, 1913 – September 4, 1991) was an American jazz saxophonist, composer, and bandleader. His major recordings were "Skyliner", "Cherokee", "The Wrong Idea", "Scotch and Soda", and "Southland Shuffle".
Wilbur Schwichtenberg (July 12, 1912 – July 15, 1989) was an American trombonist and bandleader who performed under the name Will Bradley. He was known for swing and sweet dance music, as well as boogie woogie songs, many of which were written by Don Raye. Born in Newton, New Jersey, he and drummer Ray McKinley formed a big band in 1939 which became well known for boogie-woogie, particularly its hit record, "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar," with Freddie Slack on piano.
Woodrow Charles Herman (May 16, 1913 – October 29, 1987), known as Woody Herman, was an American jazz clarinetist, alto and soprano saxophonist, singer, and big band leader. Leading various groups called "The Herd," Herman was one of the most popular of the 1930s and '40s bandleaders. His bands basically played jazz and blues, often including rather experimental material for their time.
Andrew Dewey Kirk (May 28, 1898 in Newport, Kentucky – December 11, 1992 in New York City) was a jazz bass saxophonist and tubist best known as a bandleader. He started his musical career playing with George Morrison's band, but then went on to join Terrence Holder's Dark Clouds of Joy. In 1929 he was elected leader after Holder departed.
Jay McShann (January 12, 1916 – December 7, 2006) was an American Grammy Award-nominated blues, mainstream jazz, and swing bandleader, pianist and singer. During the 1940s, McShann was at the forefront of blues and hard bop jazz musicians mainly from Kansas City. He assembled his own big band, with musicians that included some of the most influential artists of their time, including Charlie Parker, Bernard Anderson, Ben Webster and Walter Brown.
Oswald George "Ozzie" Nelson (March 20, 1906 – June 3, 1975) was an American entertainer and band leader who originated and starred in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet radio and television series with his wife and two sons.
Ben Pollack (June 22, 1903 – June 7, 1971) was a drummer and bandleader from the mid 1920s through the swing era. His eye for talent led him to either discover or employ, at one time or another, musicians such as Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden, Glenn Miller, Jimmy McPartland and Harry James. This ability earned him the nickname "Father of Swing".