Bands/Musicians The Best Big Bands of All Time  

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6.1k votes 1.4k voters 101.9k views 88 items

At the onset of the Roaring '20s and even during the Great Depression, the best big bands had the ability to get people to relax, dance and have a good time even when the world around them was crumbling. Big bands, were exactly that. Featuring a number of horns, woodwinds and brass players, that often times had anywhere from 12 to 25 members playing. The best big band artists are generally soloists, who had their time in the sun, and the bandleaders themselves. These are the musicians closely associated with big bands and the best big band artists are widely regarded and praised nearly a century after their initial run of success.

So, who are the best big bands? Well, for starters, any list of big band artists has to include the likes of Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra. These musicians and bandleaders were the biggest rock stars of their time. With their suave fashion and music being played on the radio for the first time, these big bands were the first to achieve success and notoriety on a wider scale.

That said, it's up to you to determine what are the best big bands. If you notice a big band should be on this list and isn't, feel free to add them. This list answers the questions "who are the best big band bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest big band musician ever?" If you know enough about the genre, please vote based on the quality of the band's music instead of just voting for the most popular big band bands that you might've heard of. (88 items)
list ordered by

1
293 81
Duke Ellington is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Orchestral jazz, Swing music, Big band

2
271 74
Benny Goodman is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

3
235 62
Count Basie Orchestra is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time

4
349 109
Glenn Miller Orchestra is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Big band, Jazz

5
257 76
Louis Armstrong is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Traditional pop music, Jazz

6
295 103
Frank Sinatra is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Traditional pop music, Big band

7
174 50
Glenn Miller is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

8
119 26
Count Basie is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Piano blues

9
312 121
Dean Martin is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Traditional pop music, Vocal jazz

10
131 39
Artie Shaw is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band

11
142 49
Tommy Dorsey is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

12
109 34
Harry James is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

13
118 46
Buddy Rich is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

14
67 21
Woody Herman is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Cool jazz, Swing music, Big band

15
73 25
Cab Calloway is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

16
57 17
Jimmy Dorsey is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Dixieland

17
68 27
Gene Krupa is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

18
37 8
Stan Kenton And His Orchestra is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time

19
24 3
Dizzy Gillespie is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
JimThomas added Afro-Cuban jazz, Jazz, Bebop

20
50 20
Lionel Hampton is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band

21
35 12
Charlie Barnet is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band

22
61 35
Doris Day is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Traditional pop music, Big band

23
57 34
Ray Conniff is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Big band

24
29 11
Benny Carter is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

25
12 1
The Andrews Sisters is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Noah Haon added Girl group, Swing music, Boogie-woogie

26
36 19
Swing Sisters is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Ragtime, Swing music, Big band

27
31 15
Earl Hines is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

28
30 17
Roy Eldridge is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

29
24 12
Glen Gray is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Big band, Jazz

30
25 14
Tony Martin is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Traditional pop music, Big band

31
26 15
Vic Damone is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Traditional pop music, Big band

32
30 19
Ted Heath is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Big band, Easy listening, Jazz

33
21 11
Neal Hefti is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band

34
26 16
Vaughn Monroe is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Traditional pop music, Big band

35
33 23
Ray Eberle is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Traditional pop music, Big band

36
22 13
Eydie Gorme is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Traditional pop music, Latin pop

37
18 10
Claude Thornhill is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Cool jazz, Jazz

38
19 11
Jack Jones is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Traditional pop music, Big band, Jazz

39
10 4
Don Ellis is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
joel-green added

40
11 5
Rob McConnell & The Boss Brass is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Darko Babic added

41
21 16
Ray McKinley is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Big band, Jazz

42
10 5
Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
1522150139351 added Jazz

43
21 17
One O'Clock Lab Band is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Big band, Jazz

44
13 9
Steve Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Ballad, Swing music, Traditional pop music

45
8 4
Gordon MacRae is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
ArkleSparkle added

46
7 3
Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Ba... is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time

47
5 1
Louis Bellson and His Big Band is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time

48
4 0
Louis Prima, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
magic5159 added Swing music, Traditional pop music, Jazz

49
18 15
Ted Weems is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Big band, Jazz

50
16 13
Buddy Morrow is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band