Benny Carter


Benny-Carter 3Born 1907 NYC, arranger, composer, bandleader, alto saxophonist, and trumpet player, Benny Carter had one of the longest and most celebrated careers in jazz that spanned some 70 years until his death in 2003. A true original, he was a pioneer alto sax soloist and one of the most important and innovative arrangers in all of jazz.

Benny Carter - Episode 1

Benny Carter's works were performed by Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Paul Whiteman, and many other renowned bandleaders of the pre swing and swing era. Carter gives us the “sax soli” i.e. a method of writing for the saxophone section that highlights the tone, full sound, and dexterity of the instrument.
CompositionArtistYear
When the Lights are LowBenny Carter and His Swing Quartet1936
P.D.Q. BluesFletcher Henderson Orchestra (arr. by Benny Carter)1927
Six of Seven TimesLittle Chocolate Dandies (Benny Carter Orchestra)1929
Keep a Song in Your SoulFletcher Henderson Orchestra (arr. by Benny Carter)1930
Somebody Loves MeFletcher Henderson Orchestra (arr. by Benny Carter)1930

Benny Carter - Episode 2

Benny Carter enjoyed great popularity as a bandleader, arranger/composer, and soloist in the 1930’s. He spent 3 years in the mid 1930’s in Europe recording and performing with many expatriate American musicians as well as many celebrated European jazz musicians. His popularity as an arranger and soloist were known world-wide by this time. I will play some of his most memorable recordings that feature his arranging skills, as well as his soloing.
CompositionArtistYear
Krazy KapersThe Chocolate Dandies with Teddy Wilson1933
Lonesome NightsThe Benny Carter Orchestra1933
Symphony in RiffsThe Benny Carter Orchestra1933
New Swing StreetBenny Carter and the Ramblers1937

Bunny Berrigan


Bunny_BerriganTrumpet player Rowland Bernard “Bunny” Berigan was born in 1908 in Fox Lake, Wisconsin. A virtuoso, he rose to fame during the swing era and performed with many of the most important bands of that era including Benny Goodman, Hal Kemp, Paul Whiteman, Glenn Miller, and Tommy Dorsey before forming his own big band in the late 1930s. He was also a composer and his 1937 classic jazz recording “I Can’t Get Started with You” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1975.

Bunny Berrigan - Episode 1

Bunny's earliest influences were Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke. Early in his career he played with numerous territory bands before moving to New York in 1929. In New York he worked in recording studios, played with major radio orchestras, and performed in dance bands. A jack of all trades, Berigan was a great soloist, could play lead trumpet, could read any piece of music put before him, and was universally liked and admired.
CompositionArtistYear
Struttin' with Some BarbequeLouis Armstrong and Hot 71927
Potato Head BluesLouis Armstrong and Hot 71927
River Boat ShuffleBix Beiderbecke/Frankie Trumbauer Orchestra1927
Goose PimplesBix Beiderbecke and New Orleans Lucky 71927
Nothin' but the BluesBunny Berrigan and the Gene Gifford Orchestra1935
King Porter StompBunny Berrigan and Benny Goodman1935

Bunny Berrigan - Episode 2

Berigan left the Goodman band after playing in the group for about a year. He soon formed his own group and in between performed with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra; his solos on the Dorsey hits "Marie" and the “Song of India” are considered some of his finest work. In 1937 when he was able to secure adequate financial backing, Berigan assembled a band to record under his name. He picked a little known Ira Gershwin/Vernon Duke composition, "I Can't Get Started" to record and it became his most memorable recording and also his theme song. The addition of his “reedy” vocal only adds to the charm of this important recording. Like Bix Beiderbecke, Berigan’s early demise at age 33 left a void in the trumpet world.
CompositionArtistYear
Sometimes I'm HappyBunny Berrigan and Benny Goodman1935
A Fine RomanceBunny Berrigan and the Billie Holiday Orchestra1936
Honeysuckle RoseBenny Berrigan Jam Session at Victor1937
BluesBunny Berrigan Jam Session at Victor1937
I Can't Get StartedBunny Berrigan and His Orchestra1937
Song of IndiaBunny Berrigan and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra1937
MarieBunny Berrigan and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra1937
Black BottomBunny Berrigan and his Orchestra1938

History of Big Bands


Hickman_Orch_Action_ShotWhen someone mentions big bands the first thought is often the period from 1935 to 1945, referred to as the “Swing Era.” Big bands or orchestras that played ragtime or other types of syncopated popular music for dancing have been around since the late 19th century. The history of the bands from the “swing era” goes back at least this far. James Reese Europe’s Clef Club Orchestra is probably the earliest of the popular dance orchestras that provided the blue print for the evolution of the big dance (jazz) band of the 1920’s. Europe’s group did not play jazz, but a ragtime version of syncopated music./h7>

History of the Big Bands - Episode 1

The recordings on this podcast represent the best in popular syncopated dance music from this period. The only group here that, in any way, might have represented authentic New Orleans music is the ODJB. Although Europe and Wilbur Sweatman were African American, they were not from New Orleans. One of the great tragedies in jazz research is that we have no jazz recordings of African-American musicians from New Orleans prior to 1921.
CompositionArtistYear
Castle House RagJames Reese Europe’s Society Orchestra1914
The Chicken WalkSix Brown Brothers1916
I’d Love to Fall Asleep….Benson Orchestra of Chicago1920
Rose RoomArt Hickman Orchestra1919
Livery Stable BluesThe Original Dixieland Jazz Band (ODJB)1917
Slide Kelly SlideWilbur Sweatman Orchestra1919
Japanese SandmanPaul Whiteman Orchestra1920
WhisperingPaul Whiteman Orchestra1920

History of the Big Bands - Episode 2

Many of the great big bands from this period were located in Chicago, but New York was quickly going to become the center for this music. By 1923 pianist Fletcher Henderson had one of the most popular African American dance bands in New York. Both Fletcher and his chief arranger and saxophonist, Don Redman, began to tinker with the stock arrangements they were buying from the large publishing companies. By 1924 Redman and Henderson had established an original sound---one that captured the energy and sound of New Orleans collective improvisation, yet was largely written out for the musicians. This was also the year that Henderson hired a young cornet play from New Orleans that he had met in Chicago by the name of Louis Armstrong. For 9 months in late 1924 through 1925 Armstrong lived in New York and performed with the Henderson Orchestra. Armstrong’s presence in the Henderson Orchestra, and for that matter, the city of New York, changed jazz forever. The Henderson Orchestra, with the Redman arrangements, set the blueprint for big band jazz in the next decade.
CompositionArtistYear
Stomp OffErskine Tate1926
The Memphis Maybe ManDoc Cook Dreamland Orchestra1924
Dicty BluesFletcher Henderson Orchestra1923
Oh BabyDixie Stompers (Fletcher Henderson)1928
CopenhagenFletcher Henderson Orchestra1924
Sugar Foot StompFletcher Henderson Orchestra1925