Charlie Barnet & His Orchestra
One of the best (and least remembered) big bands around. Barnet, who adored Duke Ellington's band, assembled the hottest players for his outfit regardless of race, which hurt him in our segregated country. Billy May, who later wrote many of Sinatra's hottest charts, created his trademark "slurping sax" arrangements here, and Barnet's own sax was a lot like that of Johnny Hodges. The only quibble most have with him is that he didn't play his own instrument enough, preferring to share the spotlight with such talents as Roy Eldridge, Lena Horne, Kay Starr, and Clark Terry. When the country turned away from big band music, Barnet threw in the towel and returned to the upper crust life he had previously rejected for jazz. His country club's gain was our loss -- his band was one of the finest of the Swing era.