10 Best Big Band Songs

The 10 best big band songs swing. Some songs feature a male or female vocalist, but most songs simply allow the large orchestra to take charge of the instrumental pieces. The big band leaders, including Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, If you're in the groove Jackson and your feet like joining the Cats and Kittens in a jumpin' jive, then big band songs should be on your iPod, if you're new school, and your CD player, if you're old school. If you're pre-old school, you might even have a long-play record to hear your favorite jive. 

  1. "In the Mood." A classic best big band song by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, this tune was released in 1939 and was a hit after a featured performance in the 1941 film "Sun Valley Serenade." 
  2. "It Don't Mean a Thing." "If it ain't got that swing," now, everyone, "Doo wah, doo wah, doo wah!" The Duke Ellington song is the top of the list of best big band songs. Swinging began on this best big band ditty in 1931 and the song is now a jazz standard. The tune was by the Duke and the lyrics were penned by Irving Mills. 
  3. "Begin the Beguine." Artie Shaw's big band popularized this big band tune about the beguine. In case you're not a dancer, the beguine is a slow dance with some elements of the rumba. The best big bands songs were all about dancing and this one features a popular dance of the times. 
  4. "Take the 'A' Train." Another song popularized by Ellington's big band  that reminds listeners to take the train that swings. Billy Strayhorn wrote the tune and Ellington worked out the popular arrangement. It was a the mid-1930s match that earns this tune a top slot on the best big band list. 
  5. "Sentimental Journey." This tune was written by Les Brown and Ben Homer with lyrics by Bud Green, but the tune was made popular by Les Brown and His Band of Renown, with the main lady of song Doris Day, of later pure-as-the-driven movie fame. 
  6. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." This tune written by Hughie Prince and Don Raye was written before the U.S. entered World War II, but the Andrew Sisters singing group made the tune a hit as a tribute to soldiers when America entered the war in 1941. This tune, a jump tune, allows dancers to jitterbug until the cows come home. 
  7. "Sing, Sing, Sing." Benny Goodman leads his orchestra in this best big band song released originally by the composer Louis Prima in 1936. Both Goodman and Fletcher Henderson, another popular big band leader, had hits with this tune. Take your pick, all versions are classic big band.
  8. "Tuxedo Junction." Erskine Hawkins and his big band are famous for this classic, best big band song. Hawkins penned the tune with his sax player Bill Johnson in the mid-1930s and was a hit in 1939 by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra. 
  9. "Chattanooga Choo Choo." Glenn Miller leads his orchestra on this best big band song featured in the film "Sun Valley Serenade." The extended version, made popular on early MTV jukeboxes called "Talkies," featured a tap dance performance by the Nicolas Brothers. 
  10. "Stompin' at the Savoy." Benny Goodman again took the lead on this classic best big band song about dancing in 1935. The tune was written by Edgar Sampson in 1934 and is now a jazz classic. 
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