I always say that I should have been born in the 1930s – I’m an old lady at heart and Big Band is one of my favorite “old timey” things. If you’re in the mood for fun, energetic, yet calming music, Big Band is perfect for you. Great for late Sunday lunches or sitting on your porch while enjoying the last moments of summer, jazz takes you to a place that’s strangely familiar.
Begin with the likes of Benny Goodman and His Orchestra and the classic-sounding “Jersey Bounce” and “Seven Come Eleven,” which are fun and catchy songs that make you want to live in the 1940s. Benny Goodman’s style is calmer and more relaxed compared to Count Basie’s “Jumping At The Woodside” which makes me want to get up and dance. But if you want to wind down and relax, check out Woody Herman’s “Blue Flame,” a slow progression of sounds with a dreamlike beat in the background. For a harder edge and loud trumpets, Duke Ellington’s “Tootie For Cootie” seems to embody a lazy seduction of energy. The Glenn Miller Orchestra, one of the best known big bands, is an easy mood-lifter with its slow and melodic beats to its loud and foot-stomping sounds. Almost anything this band plays I like. To get started with Glenn Miller, listen to “In The Mood,” its fitting title will set you right in the mood for this band. Then move along to “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “String Of Pearls,” “Little Brown Jug,” and “Moonlight Cocktail,” all of which are fantastic songs.
If you’re in a jazz mood then listen to the jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. “Montmartre,” with its subtle big band sounds, will lead you right into his jazz guitar heavy songs such as “Minor Swing” and “I’ll See You In My Dreams.”
If the amount of selections available from big band artists is overwhelming, I recommend picking up big band and jazz compilation CDs or vinyl records in thrift stores or record stores. They’re an easy way to get started with this great genre of music we sometimes forget about.