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Big Band Big band refers to a jazz group of 10 or more musicians usually featuring at least three trumpets two or more trombones four or more saxophones and a rhythm section of accompanists playing some combination of piano guitar bass and drums Big-band music as a concept for music fans is identified most with the swing era though there were large jazz-oriented dance bands before the swing era of the 1930s and 1940s and large jazz-oriented bands after the swing era Classification difficulties occur when music stores shelve recordings by all large jazz ensembles as though it were a single style despite the shifting harmonic and rhythmic approaches employed by new ensembles of similar instrumentation that have formed since the swing era By lumping the music of all large jazz bands together marketers overlook the different kinds of jazz that large groups have performed swing Duke Ellington and Count Basie bebop Dizzy Gillespie cool Gerry Mulligan Miles Davis Shorty Rogers Gil Evans hard bop Gerald Wilson Charles Mingus free jazz some of Sun Ras work after the l950s and jazz-rock fusion Don Elliss and Maynard Fergusons groups of the 1970s Not all of them are swing bands Many listeners consider big band to denote an idiom not just an instrumentation For them the strategies of arranging and soloing that were established during the 1930s link all large jazz ensembles more than the different rhythmic and harmonic concepts dis- tinguishing those of one era for example bebop from those of another for example jazz-rock Another important consideration that journalists and jazz fans of the 1930s and 1940s drew was the distinction between bands that conveyed the most hard-driving rhythmic qualities and frequent solo improvisations and those that conveyed less pronounced swing feeling and improvisation The former were called swing bands or hot bands for example Count Basies and Duke Ellingtons bands The latter were called sweet bands for example the bands of
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