Bands/Musicians The Best Big Bands of All Time  

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5.6k votes 1.3k voters 98.2k views 85 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. (85 items)

1
325 97
Glenn Miller Orchestra is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Glenn Miller Orchestra Big band, Jazz

2
267 74
Duke Ellington is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Duke Ellington Orchestral jazz, Swing music, Big band

3
244 65
Benny Goodman is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Benny Goodman Swing music, Big band, Jazz

4
213 58
Count Basie Orchestra is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time

5
247 74
Louis Armstrong is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Louis Armstrong Swing music, Traditional pop music, Jazz

6
283 100
Frank Sinatra is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Frank Sinatra Swing music, Traditional pop music, Big band

7
161 48
Glenn Miller is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Glenn Miller Swing music, Big band, Jazz

8
306 118
Dean Martin is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Dean Martin Swing music, Traditional pop music, Vocal jazz

9
110 25
Count Basie is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Count Basie Swing music, Big band, Piano blues

10
131 48
Tommy Dorsey is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Tommy Dorsey Swing music, Big band, Jazz

11
112 39
Artie Shaw is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Artie Shaw Swing music, Big band

12
93 33
Harry James is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Harry James Swing music, Big band, Jazz

13
107 45
Buddy Rich is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Buddy Rich Swing music, Big band, Jazz

14
70 25
Cab Calloway is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Cab Calloway Swing music, Big band, Jazz

15
53 15
Jimmy Dorsey is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Jimmy Dorsey Swing music, Big band, Dixieland

16
59 20
Woody Herman is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Woody Herman Cool jazz, Swing music, Big band

17
9 0
The Andrews Sisters is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Noah Haon added The Andrews Sisters Girl group, Swing music, Boogie-woogie

18
66 26
Gene Krupa is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Gene Krupa Swing music, Big band, Jazz

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

20
32 7
Stan Kenton And His Orchestra is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time

21
60 34
Doris Day is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Doris Day Traditional pop music, Big band

22
55 30
Ray Conniff is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Ray Conniff Big band

23
30 11
Charlie Barnet is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Charlie Barnet Swing music, Big band

24
35 16
Swing Sisters is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Swing Sisters Ragtime, Swing music, Big band

25
19 3
Dizzy Gillespie is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
JimThomas added Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban jazz, Jazz, Bebop

26
26 11
Benny Carter is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Benny Carter Swing music, Big band, Jazz

27
29 15
Earl Hines is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Earl Hines Swing music, Big band, Jazz

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

29
32 21
Ray Eberle is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Ray Eberle Swing music, Traditional pop music, Big band

30
23 13
Tony Martin is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Tony Martin Traditional pop music, Big band

31
21 12
Glen Gray is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Glen Gray Big band, Jazz

32
17 9
Jack Jones is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Jack Jones Traditional pop music, Big band, Jazz

33
18 10
Neal Hefti is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Neal Hefti Swing music, Big band

34
20 12
Eydie Gorme is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Eydie Gorme Swing music, Traditional pop music, Latin pop

35
22 14
Vaughn Monroe is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Vaughn Monroe Traditional pop music, Big band

36
22 14
Vic Damone is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Vic Damone Traditional pop music, Big band

37
27 19
Ted Heath is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Ted Heath Big band, Easy listening, Jazz

38
14 8
Claude Thornhill is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Claude Thornhill Cool jazz, Jazz

39
20 15
Ray McKinley is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Ray McKinley Big band, Jazz

40
13 8
Steve Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Steve Lawrence Ballad, Swing music, Traditional pop music

41
20 16
One O'Clock Lab Band is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
One O'Clock Lab Band Big band, Jazz

42
18 14
Ted Weems is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Ted Weems Big band, Jazz

43
8 4
Rob McConnell & The Boss Brass is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Darko Babic added Rob McConnell & The Boss Brass

44
7 3
Don Ellis is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
joel-green added Don Ellis

45
10 7
Don Sebesky is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Don Sebesky Big band, Jazz

46
6 3
Gordon MacRae is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
ArkleSparkle added Gordon MacRae

47
5 2
Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
1522150139351 added Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band Jazz

48
16 14
The Spitfire Band is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
The Spitfire Band Swing music, Big band

49
16 14
Frankie Carle is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Big Bands of All Time
Frankie Carle Piano, Traditional pop music, Big band

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