The DJ Playlist: BIG BAND FUSION
The term ‘big band’ is synonymous with the 1930s and 40s, when jazz and swing were the on-trend musical styles of the day! Artists including Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman were among those who formed hugely successful orchestras and recorded classics such as ‘In the Mood’, ‘Take The “A” Train’ and ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’.
By collaborating with artists including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Dean Martin, these huge ensembles ensured their popularity continued to grow through the 50s before fading slightly as rock & roll came along, and then even more so into the 60s when British Invasion groups like the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and the Kinks became the dominant forces in popular music.
Despite these changes to the musical landscape, the big band sound has remained popular and is a favoured style for many DJs to this very day – especially in the wedding market, where this cool, classic vibe is enjoyed by guests of all ages.
The big band sound enjoyed a resurgence in the 1990s as tracks such as ‘Guaglione’ by Perez ‘Prez’ Prado hit the UK top ten. This success paved the way for ‘Mambo No.5’ by Lou Bega – which added lyrics to Prado’s 50s track of the same name – and other big band-influenced releases.
Fast forward a few years and big band was to get a shot in the arm. In 2005, legendary crooner Paul Anka put a cool spin on the sound by recording unique versions of tracks including ‘Eye of the Tiger’, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and even Van Halen’s 1984 soft-rock anthem ‘Jump’. It really is a fabulous album and paved the way for artists like Rod Stewart and Robbie Williams, who went on to release similar albums. Michael Bublé, Brian Setzer and Jools Holland all embraced this renewed era of big band, recording exciting new versions of classic songs as well as their own original tracks.
Mixing up new and old big band tracks makes for an innovative soundtrack at any event where a cooler, slightly different vibe is required and can also cross over into a main party set. Tracks such as ‘Candyman’ by Christina Aguilera, ‘Enjoy Yourself’ by Jools Holland feat. Prince Buster and ‘I Wanna Be Like You’ by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy have always proved effective when played at the right time during wedding sets, with the latter being one of my favoured ‘extra’ tracks at the end of the night.
You could even try adding a few surprises to your playlist by introducing new artists like Gregory Porter, Jamie Cullum and Lady Gaga, all of whom have recorded fantastic versions of classic tracks. Though it will take a brave DJ indeed to drop ‘Hanky Panky’ by Madonna!
Big Band Fusion Playlist
1 \\ Candyman – Christina Aguilera
2 \\ Jump – Paul Anka
3 \\ ...Baby, One More Time – Baseballs
4 \\ Cheek To Cheek – Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga
5 \\ I Wanna Be Like You – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
6 \\ Minnie The Moocher – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
7 \\ Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Michael Bublé
8 \\ I Get A Kick Out Of You – Michael Bublé
9 \\ Zoot Suit Riot – Cherry Poppin’ Daddies
10 \\ Don’t Stop The Music – Jamie Cullum
11 \\ Enjoy Yourself – Jools Holland feat. Prince Buster
12 \\ I’m In The Mood For Love – Jools Holland feat. Jamiroquai
13 \\ Monkey Man – Jools Holland feat. Amy Winehouse
14 \\ Just A Gigolo – David Lee Roth
15 \\ Hanky Panky – Madonna
16 \\ Go Tell It On The Mountain / Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Gregory Porter & Anita Wilson
17 \\ Putting On The Ritz – Gregory Porter
18 \\ Gettin’ In The Mood – Brian Setzer Orchestra
19 \\ Jump Jive & Wail – Brian Setzer Orchestra
20 \\ Have You Met Miss Jones – Robbie Williams
You can legally download all of these tracks from: