top of page
  • Writer's pictureJake Boldman

Beginner Big Band Listening Guide!

Just starting to play big band music in school? Don't know what a big band is? Want a refresher on some of the greatest big band records ever made? Well, you've come to the right place.

This list is certainly subjective but what I feel are great examples of each bands unique style. I will note that I'm only including recordings post 1950. If you have any additions to my list or notice any discrepancies please feel free to leave a comment!

Count Basie Orchestra

The Atomic Mr. Basie (1958)

Lead: Snooky Young

Chairman of the Board (1959)

Lead: Snooky Young

Frankly Basie (1963)

Lead: Snooky Young

Live at the Sands (Before Frank) (1966)

Lead: Al Aarons

Basie Straight Ahead (1968)

Lead: Gene Goe

Stan Kenton Orchestra

Contemporary Concepts (1955)

Lead: Al Porcino

Cuban Fire! (1956)

Lead: Ed Leddy

West Side Story (1961)

Lead: Dalton Smith

Live at Redlands University (1970)

Lead: Mike Vax

Kenton '76 (1976)

Lead: John Harner

Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra

All My Yesterdays (1966)

Lead: Snooky Young

Central Park North (1969)

Lead: Snooky Young

Consummation (1970)

Lead: Snooky Young

Potpourri (1974)

Lead: Jon Faddis

Greetings and Salutations (1975)

Lead: Jon Faddis

Terry Gibbs Dream Band

Vol. 1 Dream Band (1959)

Lead: Al Porcino

Vol. 2 - The Sundown Sessions (1959)

Lead: Johnny Audino

Vol. 3 - Flying Home (1959)

Lead: Al Porcino (tracks 3-6, 9, 11), Johnny Audino (tracks 1, 2, 7, 8, 10)

Vol. 4 Main Stem (1961)

Lead: Al Porcino

Vol. 5 - The Big Cat (1961)

Lead: Al Porcino

Buddy Rich Big Band

Swingin' New Big Band (1966)

Lead: Bobby Shew

Big Swing Face (1967)

Lead: Chuck Findley

Mercy, Mercy (1968)

Lead: Al Porcino

The Roar of '74 (1974)

Lead: Charley Davis

Maynard Ferguson

All M.F. Horn Albums

Lead: Various

Conquistador (1974)

Lead: Stan Mark

Big Bop Nouveau (1988)

Lead: Wayne Bergeron

Live From London (1994)

Lead: Roger Ingram

Brass Attitude (1998)

Lead: Frank Greene

That's it for now! Get started with some of these great records. Don't stop there though! One of the most fun parts of playing is discovering new records to listen to on your own. Like a band? Find all of their records! Like a player? Find all of their records! There is so much to listen to and absorb. It can be overwhelming sometimes but stick to one album at a time and you'll be fine. Enjoy walking the listening path to lead trumpet enlightenment.

Alright y'all I hope you enjoyed the post! Stay hydrated and keep listening.



Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page