Tommy Watt (31 October 1925, Glasgow – 20 May 2006, Bristol, England) was a Scottish jazz bandleader.
Watt was hired as a pianist by Carl Barriteau at age 17, and served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. He moved to London following the war, where he played with Ambrose, Harry Roy, and Ken Mackintosh. He teamed up with actor Brian Rix, whom he had met during the war, in 1955 to record a demo, which eventually led to a contract with the BBC. After making appearances behind Matt Monro, Watt was hired by Parlophone for session and arranging work. In 1956 Watt put together his first big band, which played at Quaglino's, a London restaurant. Among his sidemen were Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Ross, Jackie Armstrong, Tommy McQuater, Bert Courtley, and Phil Seaman.
Watt became one of the better-known British bandleaders of the 1950s, winning an Ivor Novello Award for the song "Overdrive" and releasing their first LP record in 1958. Watt's arrangements of Count Basie songs so impressed Basie himself that he incorporated some of Watt's changes into his own performances. After disbanding his ensemble, Watt worked with Rix on stage shows and films, including the 1961 movies The Night We Got the Bird and Nothing Barred . He led the BBC Northern Dance Orchestra and the BBC Big Band briefly in the early 1960s, but squabbles with management quickly ended this contract. In 1964 he assembled the Centre 42 Big Band, and through the end of the decade wrote for television and directed singers Tommy Cooper and Freddie Starr.
In 1970, Watt put together a new group to perform at the Dorchester Hotel in London, but was dissatisfied with the gig and disbanded the orchestra soon after. He left music, aside from occasional piano performances, and became an interior decorator.
Watt was married to journalist Romany Bain from 1962 until his death in 2006.Their son Ben Watt became famous in his own right as a member of Everything but the Girl.
A big band is a type of musical ensemble of jazz music that usually consists of ten or more musicians with four sections: saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and a rhythm section. Big bands originated during the early 1910s and dominated jazz in the early 1940s when swing was most popular. The term "big band" is also used to describe a genre of music, although this was not the only style of music played by big bands.
Alton Glenn Miller was an American big-band trombonist, arranger, composer, and bandleader in the swing era. He was the best-selling recording artist from 1939 to 1942, leading one of the best-known big bands. Miller's recordings include "In the Mood", "Moonlight Serenade", "Pennsylvania 6-5000", "Chattanooga Choo Choo", "A String of Pearls", "At Last", "(I've Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo", "American Patrol", "Tuxedo Junction", "Elmer's Tune", and "Little Brown Jug". In just four years Glenn Miller scored 16 number-one records and 69 top ten hits—more than Elvis Presley and the Beatles did in their careers.
William James "Count" Basie was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer. In 1935, Basie formed his own jazz orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra, and in 1936 took them to Chicago for a long engagement and their first recording. He led the group for almost 50 years, creating innovations like the use of two "split" tenor saxophones, emphasizing the rhythm section, riffing with a big band, using arrangers to broaden their sound, and others. Many musicians came to prominence under his direction, including the tenor saxophonists Lester Young and Herschel Evans, the guitarist Freddie Green, trumpeters Buck Clayton and Harry "Sweets" Edison, plunger trombonist Al Grey, and singers Jimmy Rushing, Helen Humes, Thelma Carpenter, and Joe Williams.
Swing music is a form of jazz that developed in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s. The name came from the emphasis on the off–beat, or weaker pulse. Swing bands usually featured soloists who would improvise on the melody over the arrangement. The danceable swing style of big bands and bandleaders such as Benny Goodman was the dominant form of American popular music from 1935 to 1946, known as the swing era. The verb "to swing" is also used as a term of praise for playing that has a strong groove or drive. Notable musicians of the swing era include Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Harry James, Louis Jordan, Glenn Miller, Louis Prima, and Artie Shaw.
Thomas Francis Dorsey Jr. was an American jazz trombonist, composer, conductor and bandleader of the big band era. He was known as the "Sentimental Gentleman of Swing" because of his smooth-toned trombone playing. His theme song was "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You". His technical skill on the trombone gave him renown among other musicians. He was the younger brother of bandleader Jimmy Dorsey. After Dorsey broke with his brother in the mid-1930s, he led an extremely popular and highly successful band from the late 1930s into the 1950s. He is best remembered for standards such as "Opus One", "Song of India", "Marie", "On Treasure Island", and his biggest hit single, "I'll Never Smile Again".
Carl Hilding "Doc" Severinsen is an American jazz trumpeter who led the band for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
Bernard "Buddy" Rich was an American jazz drummer and bandleader. He is considered one of the most influential drummers of all time.
Glenn Miller and His Orchestra was an American swing dance band formed by Glenn Miller in 1938. Arranged around a clarinet and tenor saxophone playing melody, and three other saxophones playing harmony, the band became the most popular and commercially successful dance orchestra of the Swing era and one of the greatest singles charting acts of the 20th century.
The swing era was the period (1933–1947) when big band swing music was the most popular music in the United States. Though this was its most popular period, the music had actually been around since the late 1920s and early 1930s, being played by black bands led by such artists as Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford, Bennie Moten, Cab Calloway, Earl Hines, and Fletcher Henderson, and white bands from the 1920s led by the likes of Jean Goldkette, Russ Morgan and Isham Jones. An early milestone in the era was from "the King of Swing" Benny Goodman's performance at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles on August 21, 1935, bringing the music to the rest of the country. The 1930s also became the era of other great soloists: the tenor saxophonists Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Lester Young; the alto saxophonists Benny Carter and Johnny Hodges; the drummers Chick Webb, Gene Krupa, Jo Jones and Sid Catlett; the pianists Fats Waller and Teddy Wilson; the trumpeters Louis Armstrong, Roy Eldridge, Bunny Berigan, and Rex Stewart.
Wilbur Dorsey "Buck" Clayton was an American jazz trumpet player who was a leading member of Count Basie's "Old Testament" orchestra and a leader of mainstream-oriented jam session recordings in the 1950s. His principal influence was Louis Armstrong, first hearing the record "Confessin That I Love You" on Central Avenue as he passed by a shop window.The Penguin Guide to Jazz says that he “synthesi[zed] much of the history of jazz trumpet up to his own time, with a bright brassy tone and an apparently limitless facility for melodic improvisation”. Clayton worked closely with Li Jinhui, father of Chinese popular music in Shanghai. His contributions helped change musical history in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
George Edward Heath was a British musician and big band leader.
Benjamin Baruch Ambrose, known professionally as Ambrose or Bert Ambrose, was an English bandleader and violinist. Ambrose became the leader of a highly acclaimed British dance band, Bert Ambrose & His Orchestra, in the 1930s.
The Count Basie Orchestra is a 16 to 18 piece big band, one of the most prominent jazz performing groups of the swing era, founded by Count Basie in 1935 and recording regularly from 1936. Despite a brief disbandment at the beginning of the 1950s, the band survived long past the Big Band era itself and the death of Basie in 1984. It continues as a 'ghost band'.
Bob Florence was an American pianist, composer, arranger, and big band leader.
Frank Benjamin Foster III was an American tenor and soprano saxophonist, flautist, arranger, and composer. Foster collaborated frequently with Count Basie and worked as a bandleader from the early 1950s. In 1998, Howard University awarded Frank Foster with the Benny Golson Jazz Master Award.
Cyril Stapleton was an English violinist and jazz bandleader.
Tommy Whittle was a British jazz saxophonist.
Isador Simon "Sid" Phillips was an English jazz clarinetist, bandleader, and arranger.
Dennis Mackrel is an American jazz drummer, composer, and arranger who was a member of the Count Basie Orchestra and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.
Robert Byrne was an American bandleader, trombonist, and music executive. His big band was well regarded, although it never achieved the level of popularity that he had hoped for. He flew aircraft in World War II, and later became a musical producer for television and albums credited to other artists.