Starting with the Big Bands in the 1930's and continuing through today, we've been blessed with the opportunity to enjoy music that creates a feeling of well-being and familiarity. Not the frenetic sounds of the various types of rock, but the pure melodic sounds of some of the various types of rock, but the pure melodic sounds of some bands and the swinging jazz styles of others hve provided a common bond between all peoples, no matter what their nationalities or social backgrounds.

Time, unfortunately, has robbed us of the pleasure of having most of the early "greats" among us physically, but their recordings survive them. One can't help but wonder how, for instance, Glenn Miller's style would have evolved over the years had he not met his untimely death.

The Big Bands served a purpose aside from soothing our senses with their musical arrangements - they spawned such legendary singers as Doris Day, Kay Starr, and Frank Sinatra, to name a few. Although severely restricted in the development of their own styles while with bands, many band singers eventually went out on their own, giving them the opportunity to be as innovative as their capabilities permitted.

The sensational Nat "King" Cole was one of the first balladeers to start his career without the aid of a Big Band background. He and his trio plugged along until fame simply had to follow. Ans, not the "blow my own horn," but I believe I was the first white male singer to achieve success sans a Big Band boost. Definitely not an easy road, but I've never regretted any of the hardship, as I met many kind, helpful people on the way up. Among them were Perry Como, Carl Fischer, Al Jolson, Hoagy Carmichael, and Al Jarvis.

There are still great musical groups and singers which have emerged even in the 80's and 90's. Harry Connick, Jr. is a "throwback" to the "good old days:" Barbra Streisand and Whitnes Houston are two of the greatest female singers ever, and Natalie Cole is a credit to her father's memory.

Richard Grudens embared on a labor of love, painstakingly researching the lives of many of the greats of the past several decades. Some of these musicians are or were personal friends. Over the past months, I have looked forward to receiving the book in installments as he wrote it, and I know you will share my enthusiasm and pleasure as you read the anecdotes and facts about some of our best loved performers.

But come - spend a few hours reminiscing about the people who will live in our hearts and, hopefully, our children's, forever.


The Best Damn Trumpet Player

The Best Damn Trumpet Player - Grudens' interviews with Harry James, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Teddy Wilson, Billy Eckstine, and Buddy Rich are rare gems mostly because these personalities, at this particular time of their lives, resisted interviews and personal studies for one reason or another. Others, like Frankie Laine, Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, Tony Bennett and Sarah Vaughan were willing and gracious hosts who revealed valuable information for future historians of the genre to ponder.




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