Bunny Berigan

Picture of Bunny Berigan

Bunny Berigan was one of the most talented trumpeters of The Big Band Era and a bandleader whose career was tragically cut short by alcoholism.

Berigan started his career playing with local bands as a teenager in his home state of Wisconsin. He joined Hal Kemp's Orchestra in 1929 after failing his first tryout for the band.  By late 1930 he had already become a sought out studio musician providing trumpet solos for Abe Lyman, Paul Whiteman and Benny Goodman.  From late 1932 through early 1934, Berigan was a member of Paul Whiteman's orchestra, before playing with Abe Lyman's band for a bit in 1934.

In 1934, Bunny returned to freelancing and recorded as a sideman on hundreds of recordings, most notably with the Dorsey Brothers and Glenn Miller's earliest recordings as a band leader.

At the same time, Berigan joined Benny Goodman's Swing band. With Berigan and Gene Krupa both on board, the Goodman band made the tour that ended at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles. That tour and performance are often credited with the launch of the swing era.  Berigan recorded a number of solos while with Benny Goodman, including "King Porter Stomp", "Sometimes I'm Happy", and "Blue Skies".

Listen to Bunny Berigan's version of "I Can't Get Started"

Berigan led his own band full-time from early 1937 until June 1942, with a six-month hiatus in 1940 as a sideman in Tommy Dorsey's band. Berigan's alcoholism worked against his financial success as a bandleader. The stresses of bandleading drove Berigan to drink even more heavily. Some of the most notable members of his band were Buddy Rich, Ray Conniff and Les Elgart.

Berigan sadly passed away in 1942 of cirrhosis of the liver.

You can hear Bunny Berigan right here on Swing City Radio.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Special Podcast: Celebrating Harry James

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Celebrating: Harry James


Audio Player to Listen to Podcast

Hello there fine People of Swing! In this special episode of The Big Band and Swing Podcast we celebrate the music of a true icon of the Big Band Era, Harry James. We play some of his hits and take a closer look look at the trumpet playing bandleader. Join us in this musical celebration of Harry James.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Roy Eldridge

Picture of Roy Eldridge

Roy Eldridge, nicknamed "Little Jazz", was born in 1911 and passed away in 1989.  His unique trumpet solos mark him as one of the most influential musicians of the swing era and a precursor of bebop.  Eldridge was also a featured vocalist at times in his career.

Eldridge, originally from Pittsburgh, led and played in a number of bands during his early years, touring extensively throughout the Midwest of the United States. He was influenced greatly by Benny Carter and Coleman Hawkins.

At the age of 20, Eldridge led a band in Pittsburgh, billed as "Roy Elliott and his Palais Royal Orchestra".  His agent at the time intentionally changed Eldridge's name to Elliot because "he thought it more classy."  The name change didn't last very long.

Roy soon left to try out for the orchestra of Horace Henderson, younger brother of Fletcher Henderson, and joined the band, which was then being billed as "The Fletcher Henderson Stompers under the Direction of Horace Henderson."  Eldridge then played with a number of other territory bands, he drifted from band to band making a name for himself and making strong contacts throughout the industry.

Listen to Roy Eldridge's trumpet playing featured on "Rockin' Chair"

Eldridge moved to New York in November 1930, playing in various bands in the early 1930's.  At this time, Eldridge was also making records and radio broadcasts under his own name. He laid down his first recorded solos with Teddy Hill in 1935, which gained almost immediate popularity.  In October of 1935, Eldridge joined Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra, playing lead trumpet and occasionally singing.  Until he left the group in early September 1936, Eldridge was Henderson's featured soloist, his talent highlighted by such numbers as "Christopher Columbus" and "Blue Lou."

Eldridge, fed up with the racism he had encountered in the music industry, quit playing in 1938 to study radio engineering. But in April of 1941, after receiving many offers from white swing bands, Eldridge joined Gene Krupa's Orchestra, and was successfully featured with rookie singer Anita O'Day.  This made Eldridge one of the first black musicians to become a permanent member of a white big band. Eldridge and O'Day were featured in a number of recordings, including the novelty hit "Let Me Off Uptown" and "Knock Me a Kiss".

Listen to Gene Krupa's "Let Me Off Uptown" with Roy Eldridge and Anita O'Day on vocals.

Krupa's band soon broke up when Krupa was jailed for marijuana possession in July 1943.  After leaving Krupa's band, Eldridge freelanced in New York during 1943 before joining Artie Shaw's band in 1944. Racial incidents that he faced while playing in Shaw's band prompted Eldridge to leave and form a big band, but this eventually proved financially unsuccessful, and Eldridge returned to small group work.

You can hear the influential trumpet playing of Roy Eldridge right here on Swing City Radio.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Podcast: Episode 23

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Episode 23: Frankie, Bing and Delicious Homemade Pickles


Audio Player to Listen to Podcast

Hey there People of Swing! In this episode we hear some great music by The Ink Spots, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, The Benny Goodman Sextet, Ella Fitzgerald and more. We also listen to an old Chase and Sanborn Coffee radio ad. Oh, and I almost forgot: Pickles.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Don Redman

Don Redman

Don Redman had moderate success as a bandleader, but left a huge impact on the Big Band Era as an arranger.  Redman was also an accomplished musician playing both clarinet and saxophones.

In 1923, Redman joined the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra and began writing arrangements that did much to formulate the sound that was to become "Swing".  Don Redman's arrangements were sophisticated, highly innovative, and formed much of the foundation of the Big Band sound.  In my opinion, the work he did with Fletcher Henderson and His Band was some of his most impressive work.

Redman then joined McKinney's Cotton Pickers in 1927 as their musical director and leader. He was responsible for their great success and arranged over half of their music. He was a main fixture with McKinney's Cotton Pickers until 1931 when he left to form his own Orchestra.

Don Redman and His Orchestra signed with Brunswick Records and also did a series of radio broadcasts. During the early 1930's, the records Redman made were some of the most complex, "hot" arrangements of the period. Both Harlan Lattimore and Redman himself handled the vocals for the band.  He signed with the Bluebird label in 1938 and recorded with them until 1940, when he disbanded the orchestra.

Listen to Lazybones by Don Redman and His Orchestra

The 1940's saw Redman spread his musical influence as a freelance arranger. His arrangements provided hits for Jimmy Dorsey, Count Basie, and Harry James.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.
Support Our Station: Affiliate Disclosure

Connect with Swing City Radio

Support Our Station

Support Our Station: Affiliate Disclosure

List of Artists We Play

Your Thoughts

Name

Email *

Message *