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A Tribute to the Big Bands and Singers

     The Big Band era claims the late 1930s through the 1940s as the zenith of its popularity. The legacy of the Big Bands still lives today in movies, on television, and in the dwindling number of dance halls across America. Although the Big Bands will never be the same, there are fantastic university and public school bands perpetuating the big bands in a more jazz oriented fashion.

     In the history of the Big Bands, a "boy singer" or "girl singer" was often added as an afterthought to the band's mission of providing music to the dancing public. An early band singer was grudgingly given only a short section in an instrumental arrangement to provide a break from the sound of the band. When the dancers and audiences voiced their approval of band singers, bandleaders finally realized the drawing power of the singers, then considered them an integral part of their bands.

     One of the most famous and influential singer scenarios was when Tommy Dorsey hired Frank Sinatra away from the Harry James Band. Although Harry had a contract with Frank, Harry gave his blessings to the move because it was a great opportunity for Frank to sing with the Dorsey Band, one of the finest bands in America. When Frank wanted to leave Tommy's band, however, it was a different story, and the details of that acrimonious split have become legend. Frank Sinatra, of course, became the flash point for changing the appeal of strictly instrumental dance music to the domination of singers in pop music. It is difficult to find any of today's pop music that does not include a vocalist, proving the lasting impact of the Big Band singers.

     This album is dedicated to the great memories that ballrooms and big bands elicit for those fortunate enough to have heard "the music." For Big Band fans of all ages -- those who remember Big Band music and those who have more recently discovered the joy of Big Band music -- I hope this album brings you hours of listening and dancing pleasure.

     Finally, a huge thank you to the musicians who participated in the making of Ballroom Memories. Like the great musicians of the Big Band era, you were magnificent.

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The Musicians

Bill Shepherd: Leader, Trombone, Vocals
Alto sax: Bob Shafer, Jim Gosnell
Tenor sax: David Aguiar, Tom Barry, Chris Merz
Baritone sax: Mike Michalicek
Trumpet: Randy Grabowski, Dwayne Johnson, Gerald Ramsey, Bob Huinker
Trombone: Bill Scheidecker, Steve Citta, Nancy Vogt, Bard Mackey
Rhythm: Drums - Dennis Johnson, Bass - Sharon Anway, Piano - Terry Kroese
Guest Vocalist: Nola Rose (Daughter of Bill Shepherd) is featured on I'll Be Seeing You and joins Bill on You Make Me Feel So Young

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