Bands/Musicians The Best Big Bands of All Time  

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5.8k votes 1.3k voters 99.2k views 86 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. (86 items)
list ordered by

1
332 99
Glenn Miller Orchestra is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Big band, Jazz

2
249 66
Benny Goodman is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

3
274 76
Duke Ellington is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Orchestral jazz, Swing music, Big band

4
250 74
Louis Armstrong is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Traditional pop music, Jazz

5
217 60
Count Basie Orchestra is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time

6
286 102
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
166 50
Glenn Miller is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

8
308 120
Dean Martin is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Traditional pop music, Vocal jazz

9
112 25
Count Basie is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Piano blues

10
135 49
Tommy Dorsey is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

11
117 39
Artie Shaw is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band

12
97 34
Harry James is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

13
110 45
Buddy Rich is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

14
71 25
Cab Calloway is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

15
62 21
Woody Herman is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Cool jazz, Swing music, Big band

16
54 16
Jimmy Dorsey is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Dixieland

17
66 27
Gene Krupa is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

18
35 8
Stan Kenton And His Orchestra is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time

19
49 20
Lionel Hampton is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band

20
61 35
Doris Day is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Traditional pop music, Big band

21
31 12
Charlie Barnet is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band

22
20 3
Dizzy Gillespie is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
JimThomas added Afro-Cuban jazz, Jazz, Bebop

23
56 33
Ray Conniff is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Big band

24
27 11
Benny Carter is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

25
35 18
Swing Sisters is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Ragtime, Swing music, Big band

26
30 15
Earl Hines is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

27
30 17
Roy Eldridge is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz

28
24 12
Glen Gray is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Big band, Jazz

29
26 15
Vaughn Monroe is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Traditional pop music, Big band

30
24 14
Tony Martin is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Traditional pop music, Big band

31
10 1
The Andrews Sisters is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Noah Haon added Girl group, Swing music, Boogie-woogie

32
25 15
Vic Damone is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Traditional pop music, Big band

33
32 22
Ray Eberle is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Traditional pop music, Big band

34
28 19
Ted Heath is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Big band, Easy listening, Jazz

35
21 13
Eydie Gorme is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Traditional pop music, Latin pop

36
18 11
Jack Jones is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Traditional pop music, Big band, Jazz

37
18 11
Neal Hefti is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band

38
15 10
Claude Thornhill is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Cool jazz, Jazz

39
21 16
Ray McKinley is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Big band, Jazz

40
21 16
One O'Clock Lab Band is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Big band, Jazz

41
13 9
Steve Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Ballad, Swing music, Traditional pop music

42
8 4
Don Ellis is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
joel-green added

43
7 3
Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
1522150139351 added Jazz

44
18 15
Ted Weems is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Big band, Jazz

45
8 5
Rob McConnell & The Boss Brass is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Darko Babic added

46
7 4
Gordon MacRae is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
ArkleSparkle added

47
17 15
Frankie Carle is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Piano, Traditional pop music, Big band

48
10 8
Don Sebesky is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Big band, Jazz

49
5 3
Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Ba... is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time

50
3 1
Louis Bellson and His Big Band is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time