Want to buy or sell something? Check the classifieds
  • The Fedora Lounge is supported in part by commission earning affiliate links sitewide. Please support us by using them. You may learn more here.

Music suggestions 20's 30's big band & jazz?


Practically Family
San Diego
Coleman Hawkins. While he generally played in the Swing era, his style and innovation presaged the bebop era without actually belonging to it.
Best jazz tenor until Coltrane, IMO.


I'll Lock Up
Melbourne, Australia
Paul Whiteman,
Benny Goodman.
Ray Noble.
Jack Hylton.
Ben Selvin.

What kind of music are you after? Lively dance music? Hot jazz? Or the more relaxing kinda nightclub jazz? Swing dance-tunes?

Doc Average

One of the Regulars
Manchester, UK
A few who haven't been mentioned yet, in no particular order: Jelly Roll Morton, Cab Calloway, Bix Beiderbecke, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong.

And to the suggestion of Ray Noble above, I'd add his collaborator, Al Bowlly. The man who wrote the book on crooning - literally.



I'll Lock Up
Melbourne, Australia
Al Bowlly is one of my absolute favourite vocalists, up there with Sinatra. I suppose I've committed a horrific faux-pas by not mentioning his name in association with Noble's, but I always reckoned that the two men collaborated so often that it wasn't necessary!

He's a wonderful singer and I love his music.

Doc Average

One of the Regulars
Manchester, UK
Shangas said:
I suppose I've committed a horrific faux-pas by not mentioning his name in association with Noble's

Oh no, I never meant to imply that! ;) :eek:

But yes, a haunting, natural voice. It's sad that he isn't as well known now as he should be, but he does seem to have a strong cult following. It's surprising how many movies his music pops up in. In fact I think I was introduced to his singing through Stanley Kubrick's use of the song 'Midnight with the Stars and You', in The Shining.

Nik Taylor

One of the Regulars
Edge of Forever
A few come to mind: Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins, Lonnie Johnson, James P. Johnson, Joe Smith, Ed Cuffee, Claude Jones and Fats Waller. A onetime or another they all played with McKinney's Cotton Pickers.


Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
If you're interested in the definitive late-'20s sound -- saxes, banjo, pogo-stick rhythm, lots of vo-do-de-o -- in addition to others already mentioned, try --

Red Nichols
Jean Goldkette
George Olsen
Ben Bernie
Johnny Hamp
Harry Reser
Irving Aaronson
Fred Rich
Roger Wolfe Kahn
Sam Lanin


I'll Lock Up
Melbourne, Australia
David Conwill said:
Not to hijack, but I've been wanting to try on some 1920s hot jazz - the kind that is often mistaken for ragtime. Is it the same/related to Dixieland?


Hi Dave,

Ragtime was the first fully American form of music, from the 1870s or 1880s until the 1910s. By the late 1910s, jazz (dixieland jazz) was beginning to gather serious steam. So serious that when Scott Joplin died in 1917, his death didn't even make the front page of American newspapers.

"Hot Jazz" was basically what evolved from Dixieland in the 1920s and early 30s, gradually evolving into the big-band/swing style of the 30s and 40s, which we associate with classy hotel ballrooms, radio-programmes, the famous big-band leaders of the day (Miller, Goodman, Ellington, etc).

Hot Jazz was vibrant and fast and exciting. It was the kind of stuff you danced the Charleston to and it took off in the 20s. Listen to any recording of "The Charleston" (search YouTube, there's dozens of them) and you'll see what hot jazz was.

The Charleston, piano-rolled by the composer, James Price Johnson:


Amy Jeanne

Call Me a Cab
Fred Waring & His Pennsylvanians! Totally, unmistakeably 1920s in music and lyrics.

Boswell Sisters. Fabulous girl-group harmonies.

Russ Carlson & His High-Steppers. Delightful early 1930s dance-band music.


One Too Many
Melbourne, Australia
Duke Ellington Orch. The finest Jazz orch. ever, from 20's-60's; hands-down.
Jean Goldkette
Fletcher Henderson
Benny Moten's Kansas City Orch.
Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives and Sevens
Frankie Trumbauer Orch.
King Oliver
Bix Beiderbecke
Eddie Lang
The Charleston Chasers
Lee Wiley
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys

Louis Armstrong
McKinney's Cotton Pickers
Glen Gray & The Casa Loma Orch.
Don Redman & His Orch.
Fletcher Henderson
Duke Ellington
Woody Herman
Charlie Barnet
Django Reinhardt
Nat King Cole Trio
Count Basie 1936-1941 (greatest swing band ever...ever.)
Artie Shaw
Benny Goodman (small groups)
Boswell Sisters
Andy Kirk & His Clouds of Joy
Albert Ammons
Valaida Snow
The Mills Brothers
The Spirits of Rhythm
Chick Webb & His Orch.
Coleman Hawkins
Teddy Wilson - small group recordings w/ Billy Holiday, et.al.
Art Tatum
Earl Hines
Erskine Hawkins
Bunny Berigan
Kid Ory
Adrian Rollini
Jack Purvis
Jimmie Lunceford
The Cats & The Fiddle
Slim Gaillard and Slam Stewart

more to come in editing as I recall them. I just woke up and haven't had my coffee yet.


I'll Lock Up
Gopher Prairie, MI
Here are some more-or less specific suggestions taken from a previous posting of mine, generally more obscure
recording groups or Territory bands, with some of their best recordings.

Almost all of this music is available on the Red Hot Jazz website, www.redhotjazz.com.

From Texas we have Phil Baxter and his Orchestra. His "I Don't Love nobody but You" is a swinging blues slow drag, but with accordion.

Another fine Terriory group is Sunny Clapp and His Band O' Sunshine. "Come Easy, Go Easy Love" is a record that everyone should hear at least once.

The Twin cities offer us Walter Anderson and His Golden Pheasant Hoodlums playing his amazing arrangement of "Alabama Stomp" featuring what sounds like triple-tounged brass bass.

From K. C. we could select George E. Lee and his Orchestra, playing, perhaps his famous "Ruff Scufflin", or Walter Paige's Blue Devils playing their "Blue Devil Blues".

Chicago offers, in addition to the usual "Chicago style" suspects, Gowan's Rhapsody Makers with their justly famous (and frenetic) waxing of "I'll Fly to Hawaii".

Then we have my old favorites The Louisiana Rhythm Kings, playing "The Meanest Kind Of Blues" or perhaps "That's-A-Plenty".

Even Benny Krueger had his good days, when he waxed numbers like "How Many Times".

Tiny Parham had a fine band. Try his "Subway Sobs" or "Blue Island Blues".

The Gulf Coast Seven's "Daylight Savin' Blues" has much to recomend it.

Then there is the Mason-Dixon orchestra, a Trumbauer aggregation which may just feature a temporarily sobered Bix on third cornet. (There is a cornet other than Margulies and Secrist noticable on the "What A Day' and "Alabammy Snow" sides)

Bubber Miley & His Milage Maker's "I lost My Gal From Memphis" is another superb side.

Then of course The Chocolate Dandies. Their "Bugle Call Rag" and "Dee Blues" are superfine.

Zack White's Chocolate Beau Brummels are a sorely overlooked group, their "Wailin' Blues" and "Tight Like That" are really good.

then the earliest Big Band with a swing, James Reese Europe's Castle House Orchestra. Their recordings of "Castle House Rag" and "Down Home Rag" are milestones in American music.


I'll Lock Up
Iowa - The Land That Stuff Forgot
For a taste of the unjustly forgotten, check the thread "What are you listening to?" I've probably posted nearly 100 links to big band and jazz recordings of my favorite era, the early 30s. They mostly lead to YouTube, redhotjazz.com, or the very eclectic library at jazz-on-line.com.


One Too Many
Melbourne, Australia

Coleman Hawkins
Lester Young - I recommend the Blue Note Release "The Alladin Sessions"
Oscar Peterson
Errol Garner
Lionel Hampton
Georgie Auld
Ben Webster
Duke Ellington (the '40's orch. was probably the best Ellington band)
Ella Fitzgerald
Billie Holiday (particularly the 36-38 Teddy Wilson sessions)
Anita O'Day
Flip Phillips
Illinois Jacquet
Count Basie Orch. & small groups (Smith-Jones Inc., Count Basie Octet)
Tyree Glenn
Les Paul Trio (pre-Mary Ford)
Rex Stewart
Mary Lou Williams
Jess Stacy
Artie Shaw
Milt Hinton
Dizzy Gillespie
Jay McShann
Cat Anderson
Lucky Millinder
Buddy Johnson
Dave Bartholomew
Johnny Hodges
Gene Krupa (small groups)
Max Kaminsky
Nat "King" Cole
Chu Berry

For some of the very best Jazz recordings of the 1940's splurge on this. These jam sessions really do capture the true essence of jazz at it's artistic peak, before many of the best and brightest started killing themselves with booze and heroin. Improvisation never sounded better.

Forum statistics

Latest member