Big Bands

Van Alexander co-wrote “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” with Ella Fitzgerald while both worked in the Chick Webb Orchestra back in 1938. The success of that song led to a job as arranger for Webb as well as Benny Goodman and Paul Whiteman and super stardom for Ella. Van formed his own band during the wonderful...
Jon Andersen has enjoyed playing music nearly his entire life.  A jazz saxophonist, Jon played in a number of small and large bands over the years and found work with several noted musicians in and around his neighborhood, Santa Barbara.  When he was approached by his longtime friend Nick Rail, to...
Ray Anthony has only endorsed two products during his long and successful career-- only two because he doesn't give use of his name lightly. As a teenager he played trumpet for the famed Glenn Miller Orchestra during the swing era. A decade later he formed his own band and recorded a number of his...
Bob Bain played with a number of the big bands during the golden era of swing before he became the iconic studio session player in Los Angeles.  His session playing is well known for a wide range of famous gigs, such as playing for Audrey Hepburn as she sang "Moon River" in the movie "Breakfast at...
Lyle Bird grew up in a musical family with his mother playing the piano daily. As a teenager he played trumpet in several swing bands during the big band era including with such leaders as Henry Busse. He played in a band during his navy service during World War II and again played in several small...
Bugs Bower is one of the great characters of music publishing that helped re-direct the industry following World War II. Before and during the war, Bugs was a musician and arranger who played with dance bands on stage and on radio. After the war he continued arranging and was given a job at the...
Skip Buss played trumpet for several big bands on the road and in local hotel ballrooms during the great Swing Era of the 1940s.  He decided to leave the road when his son was born at which time he gigged at local clubs and ballrooms at night and worked for a small music retailer by day.  He joined...
This audio only interview was conducted for a radio program by Dan Del Fiorentino and donated to the NAMM Oral History program: Frankie Carle fondly told the story that his parents could not afford a piano so young Frankie practiced on a fake keyboard his uncle made for him out of an orange crate...
Jimmy Cheatham was one of the coolest jazz cats in the industry. Having worked with many of the top jazz players such as Duke Ellington and Ornette Coleman, Jimmy brought the sounds of traditional jazz to film scores and television programs over several decades. Jimmy’s warm personality was only...
Jeannie Cheatham played roots music before anyone was calling it that. She grew up on church music, and progressed to the blues in a time and place where black women were encouraged to express their emotions through music.  Jeannie was there when rhythm and blues became popular and played her own...

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