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Harry James

Harry James (March 15, 1916 – July 5, 1983) was an American musician who is best known as a trumpet-playing band leader who led a big band from 1939 to 1946. He broke up his band for a short period in 1947 but shortly after he reorganized and was active again with his band from then until his death in 1983. He was especially known among musicians for his technical proficiency as well as his tone, and was influential on new trumpet players from the late 1930s into the 1940s.

James played regularly with Herman Waldman's band, and at one performance was noticed by nationally popular Ben Pollack. In 1935 he joined Pollack's band, but left at the start of 1937 to join Benny Goodman's orchestra, where he stayed through 1938. He was nicknamed "The Hawk" early in his career for his ability to sight-read. A common joke was that if a fly landed on his written music, Harry James would play it. His low range had a warmth associated with the cornet and even the flugelhorn, but this sound was underrecorded in favor of James' brilliant high register.

With financial backing from Goodman, James debuted his own big band in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in January 1939, but it didn't click until adding a string section in 1941. Subsequently, known as Harry James and His Music Makers, it produced the hit "You Made Me Love You", which peaked in the Top 10 during the week of December 7, 1941. He and his band were featured in three films, Private Buckaroo, Two Girls and a Sailor and Springtime in the Rockies. He toured with the band into the 1980s, and as of July 2018 the Harry James Orchestra, led by Fred Radke, was still very much in business.

James' band was the first high-profile orchestra to feature vocalist Frank Sinatra, who signed a one-year, $75 a week contract with it in 1939. James wanted to change Sinatra's name to 'Frankie Satin', but the singer refused. Sinatra only worked seven months before leaving to join Tommy Dorsey's outfit. The James band's featured female vocalist was Helen Forrest, and his later band included drummer Buddy Rich and bassist Thurman Teague. Johnny MacAfee was featured on the sax and vocals, and Corky Corcoran was a youthful sax prodigy.

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Listen to Harry James on Swing City Radio.  We are a Big Band Radio Station playing a wide selection of Big Band and Swing music.

Swing City Radio plays Harry James - Listen to our station and hear the songs:
Ultra
Heartaches
East Coast Blues
It’s Been A Long Long Time
11:60 P.M.
I Don’t Care Who Knows It
9:20 Special
One Dozen Roses
Manhattan Serenade
Daybreak
Music Maker
The Flight Of The Bumble Bee
Two O’Clock Jump
You Made Me Love You
Strictly Instrumental
But Not For Me
Mister Five By Five
I Don’t Want To Walk Without You
Back Beat Boogie
Velvet Moon
I’ve Heard That Song Before
I Heard You Cried Last Night
I Had The Craziest Dream



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