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Charlie Barnet

Charlie Barnet was unusual in several ways. One of the few jazzmen to be born a millionaire, Barnet was a bit of a playboy throughout his life, ending up with a countless number of ex-wives and anecdotes. He was one of the few white big band leaders of the swing era to openly embrace the music of Duke Ellington (he also greatly admired Count Basie). Barnet was a pioneer in leading integrated bands (as early as 1935). And, although chiefly a tenor saxophonist (where he developed an original sound out of the style of Coleman Hawkins), Barnet was an effective emulator of Johnny Hodges on alto in addition to being virtually the only soprano player (other than Sidney Bechet) in the 1930s and '40s.

And yet Charlie Barnet was only significant in jazz for about a decade (1939-1949). Although his family wanted him to be a lawyer, he was a professional musician by the time he was 16 and ironically in his career made more money than he would have in business. Barnet arrived in New York in 1932 and started leading bands on records the following year, but his career was quite erratic until 1939. Many of Barnet's early records are worthy but some are quite commercial as he attempted to find a niche. Best is a sideman appearance on a 1934 Red Norvo date that also includes Artie Shaw and Teddy Wilson.

In 1939, with the hit recording of "Cherokee" and a very successful run at the Famous Door in New York, Charlie Barnet soon became a household name. In addition to the fine trumpeter Bobby Burnet (who soloed on many of Barnet's Bluebird records), such sidemen as guitarist Bus Etri; drummer Cliff Leeman; singers Lena Horne, Francis Wayne, and Kay Starr; pianist Dodo Marmarosa; clarinetist Buddy DeFranco; guitarist Barney Kessel; and even trumpeter Roy Eldridge spent time with Barnet's bands. Although at the height of his popularity during 1939-1942 (when his orchestra could often play a close imitation of Ellington's), Barnet's recordings for Decca during 1942-1946 were also of great interest with "Skyliner" being a best-seller.

By 1947 Barnet was starting to look toward bop. Clark Terry was his star trumpeter that year, and in 1949 his screaming trumpet section included Maynard Ferguson, Doc Severinsen, Rolf Ericson, and Ray Wetzel. Barnet, however, soon lost interest and near the end of 1949 he broke up his band. Semi-retired throughout the remainder of his life, Charlie Barnet occasionally led swing-oriented big bands during short tours and appearances, making his last recording in 1966. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

achalfen
who is the female vocalist on 720 in the book?
A great bandleader loved his soprano sax sound.
The best years of music were the 40's and 50's.....Not h i n g has ever come close.....Ou r country was united....we helped one another....w e were one big family....Th e music was perfect in every way......swi n g . . . c o u n t r y . . . . b l u e s . . . . . p a t r i o t i c . . . . y o u name it.....The singers were great....the bands were awesome..... . W e were ONE people...... however....I have one question.... . . W H A T HAPPENED???? ? . . . M o n a
Nostalgia unlimited.
If it is a big band, I love it, regardless of the leader. They are all wonderful. In my 91 years I have never heard one that I could say was really bad. Some jujst better arranged than others. My memory banks are still chock full of that great swing and jazz era. I even like Wayne King and that awful C Melody sax...which incidentally was the instrument I learned on before switching to clarinet and tenor sax.
One of his best.
A musical colleague of mine, Grant Flemming, blew sax with Charlie Barnet's band in the 40s and occasionally in the 50s. Grant passed a few years ago at age 98. Grant loved to tell about his fond memories with Barnet's band. R.I.P. Grant Flemming!
abigail_rose _ h
First of all, ...and anecdotes- what a euphemism! Also, this man was a great artist- you can tell he did it for the fun & the love of music just by the sound. As for him being born wealthy & leading integration among big bands? Well, it just goes to show that you can change the world for the better when you don't have to worry about getting paid.
ka6pjl.ture
Does any one remember the years that he played at the Cotton Club in Los Angeles? It was a great experience.
Great, Great Music!!!!! Born in 1927 (i5 now) I miss those days of the 20s, 30s, and 40s!! And I swear that music kept me alive in WWII. Giving me somethig to live for. In my hearafter I pray the music will be available there... Semper Fi !!!!!!. And Thanks...... . . .
Out of sight...
charles.zimm e r m a n n 4
Wish I was born a jazzman millionaire. . . -_-*
Stick to music commentary and not one's private life.

Judge not, lest ye be judged.
billgander
My favorite vocal group "The Skyliners" were named in 1958 by their manager Joe Rock for jazz orchestra leader Charlie Barnett’s theme song “Skyliner”.

What a great band. I have some 78rpm recordings by him in the early 30s when he was running a "sweet" band under the name The Charles Barnett Orchestra.
I ONCE HAD A 78 RECORD FEATURING MAYNARD PLAYINNG "OVER THE RAINBOW" & ON THE FLIP SIDE WAS "ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE". I CAN'T FIND THIS RECORD ANYWHERE.
I have several 78rpm discs with Charlie's first band in the early 30s. It was very much a commercial outfit. One of the tunes is "Baby Take A Bow" - the Shirley Temple tune. He was billed as Charles Barnett & His Orchestra in those early days.
Lived thru the great Big Band Days, WW2, all that. Still love the greatest music of all time. Keeps me dancin yet in my aging years. Thanks!!
If only all great--or not so great musicians could be born millionairs they/we could concentrate strictly on our instrument(s ) and the opposite sex--in that order and be as happy as Charlie--for g e t it--bread is groovey but does not necessarily make the inspired musician--
cancemi
One of his best but rarely,if ever, heard recordings, is Deep Purple. A treat if you can find it! His was one of the great swing bands!
ONE OF MY FAVORITE BANDS,SO MANY GREAT SONGS,TAKES ME BACK TO THE "BIG BAND DAYS",WISH THEY COULD ALL COME BACK,DURING THE 2ND WORLD WAR THERE WERE ALOT OF BANDS JUST LIKE THIS ONE..BUT CHARLIE BARNET WAS ONE OF MY FAVORITE
BANDS,NEVER SAW HIM IN PERSON BUT HAVE ALOT OF HIS TOP SONGS,WHICH WERE MANY,THANKS PANDORA..... . . . . . . . . .
I'm really enjoying this treat / I played a lots of his arr. / keep up the great music/

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