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The Big Bands Paperback – 4 Mar 1982


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Product details

  • Paperback: 600 pages
  • Publisher: Music Sales Ltd; 4th Revised edition edition (4 Mar 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0028724305
  • ISBN-13: 978-0028724300
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 15.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 656,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Synopsis

Photographs and text recreate the era of the great jazz and dance bands and offer profiles of leaders, musicians, and vocalists.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JJA Kiefte on 11 Jan 2009
Format: Hardcover
An obvious work of love, George Simon's book sets out to mention almost every big band that was on the scene between 1930 and 1960; the most important ones are given chapters to themselves, minor ones are grouped and given less prominence and the also rans are just mentioned. The bands' relative importance is not however measured by their musical value but their commercial succes. Thus we find unlikely contenders to musical fame such as Eddy Duchin sandwiched between Dorsey and Ellington and 'waltz king' Wayne King between Stan Kenton and Andy Kirk, do black bands generally get less space than the white bands (Ellington is allotted nine pages, Harry James fifteen; Earl Hines two, Kay Kyser six) and are bands like Hudson-de Lange and Johnny Long (and indeed, Wayne King) given chapters to themselves while Horace Henderson's fine big band and the Mills Blue Rhythm Band are not mentioned at all. To his credit though, I must add that Simon never fails to vent his admiration for the musically good bands and his dislike of the mickey mouse bands of which there were so many during the big band years (some, like Sammy Kaye and Guy Lombardo, with a longevity and a degree of commercial succes that must have been the envy of many a 'serious' swing band leader and which surprises me every time I can get myself to listen to them). While it may not be the 'definitve volume in its field' as the back cover suggests, it certainly is an unmissable book written by one who knows what he is writing about and why, his great love and admiration for the bands and the men and girls who populated them dripping from every page.
So while it is not an in depth study of the why and wherefore (best turn to Gunther Schuller's book), it is a most helpful introduction to the wonderful world of the swing era.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 Oct 1996
Format: Paperback
George Simon was an intimate part of the big band scene. He
was there when it was born and he was there when it
atrophied during Word War Two. He was an original member of
the Glenn Miller Orchestra (he played drums) and one of the
first writers for Metronome Magazine, the trade mag for the
music industry in that time. I have a hardcover copy of the
9th printing. The original copyright is indicated as 1967.
I also have an accompanying three record set that is unique
in that it was a cooperative effort by three competing
companies: RCA, Decca and Columbia. It's a shame that this
isn't available too!

Over 400 bands are mentioned, some extensively. It is full
of first-hand accounts, anecdotes and many photos. I felt as
if I was there! George Simon gave us a true window into this
piece of music history.

If I had an extra thumb, I would give it three thumbs up!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By shabalhop on 6 Dec 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For anyone interested in the big band jazz or swing of the 1930s and 1940s this is a must read. The author, George T Simon, really knew the scene in those days, having been a drummer for Glen Miller's band (briefly). But his main profession was as a journalist for the much respected American music magazine "Metronome". The book details dozens of bands and hundreds of musicians, with great insight into their various styles and characters. The text runs to well over 550 pages, but don't let that put you off - the journalistic style of Simon divides it up into easy to digest bites. And it's replete with some great black and white photographs of the period.

So if you are interested in the swing music of this period, which I guess covers most Lindy Hop and Balboa dancers, then this is the book for you. There is an extensive discography, so you can know who played what. And If you want to know who played lead trumpet for Glen Miller, drums for Count Basie, or third sax for Artie Shaw, and much more fine detail - it's all here.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The second George T book I've read and very much enjoying this one too. Its a doorway into the diverse world of big band swing music from the 30s and 40s with all the major and many minor players getting a chapter each. The band leaders, side men, promoters, girl and boy singers are all featured. I love the fact that bands had their own baseball league and played against each other in regular tournaments. George T is a great writer. A book to be enjoyed each night.
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