Lately, I’ve been listening again to Dire Straits, a British rock band led by Mark Knopfler. Their biggest selling album, Brothers in Arms, has sold over 30 million copies, and their worldwide album sales exceed 120 million. The band’s career spanned a combined total of 15 years (1977-1988, 1991-1995). Their most popular songs include “Sultans of Swing,” “Money for Nothing,” “Walk of Life,” “Brothers in Arms,” “Lady Writer,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Tunnel of Love,” “Private Investigations,” “So Far Away,” and “Your Latest Trick.”
In the “Sultans of Swing” song, a crowd of young boys in the honky tonk, “dressed in their best brown baggies and their platform soles,” are drunk as they listen to a band called the Sultans of Swing. Two lines, sung with dripping disdain, catch my ear: “They don’t give a damn about any trumpet playing band, It ain’t what they call rock and roll…”
Well, now, wait just a minute! You can’t dismiss all us horns. Those boys obviously don’t know their jazz music history and don’t even care about learning it either. No, even though the Sultans of Swing may play some swing music on their rock and roll instruments (guitars, keyboards, synthesizer, and percussion), that’s not the swing music of the great Swing Band Era, ~1936-1944. And all those big bands did feature trumpeters—and some great ones, too!
Want to hear some swing trumpeters from a time long gone by? Try these, for seven of the best:
- Louis Armstrong – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8qGa4Yh2qs
- Roy “Little Jazz” Eldridge – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zctXjgd_LeQ
- Harry James – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMaCoxOGXPM and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2lVVwy9b_E&NR=1
- Ziggy Elman – Min. 1:40 of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQVJCVgltlI
- Harry “Sweets” Edison – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYLbrZAko7E and Min. 1:25 of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VX8n-0Tr10A
- Bobby Hackett – Min. 1:58 of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLTDo08giGk and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIAj-fi_R7c
- Oran “Hot Lips” Page – Min. 0:29 of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-xPlrhfY5w
Yeah, that was then, way back when I was a boy. Today, I also love the “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits even though they trash us trumpeters. But someday, they, too, will be bye-gones, like brown baggies and platform shoes. ;-)
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