Music

The Best Big Bands of All Time  

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7.7k votes 1.8k voters 116.5k views 82 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. (82 items)
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list ordered by
1
Count Basie Orchestra is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
2
Duke Ellington is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Orchestral jazz, Swing music, Big band
3
Glenn Miller Orchestra is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Big band, Jazz
4
Benny Goodman is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz
5
Glenn Miller is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz
6
Louis Armstrong is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Traditional pop music, Jazz
7
Count Basie is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Piano blues
8
Artie Shaw is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band
9
Tommy Dorsey is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz
10
Harry James is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz
11
Buddy Rich is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz
12
Woody Herman is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Cool jazz, Swing music, Big band
13
Stan Kenton And His Orchestra is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
14
Cab Calloway is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz
15
Jimmy Dorsey is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Dixieland
16
Gene Krupa is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz
17
Dizzy Gillespie is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
JimThomas added Afro-Cuban jazz, Jazz, Bebop
18
Lionel Hampton is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band
19
Doris Day is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Traditional pop music, Big band
20
Charlie Barnet is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band
21
The Andrews Sisters is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Noah Haon added Girl group, Swing music, Boogie-woogie
22
Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
hughesjav added Jazz
23
Benny Carter is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing music, Big band, Jazz
24
Swing Sisters is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Ragtime, Swing music, Big band
25
Vic Damone is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Traditional pop music, Big band