Check Out Claude Thornhill

You might be somewhat familiar with the biggest names from the big band era of the 1930s and 40s: Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Artie Shaw, Count Basie and perhaps even the uncompromising Stan Kenton.  They’re all good.

But I feel like one of my jobs as a librarian is to preserve and promote the work of the deserving yet overlooked.

So I’m simply recommending that you check out Claude Thornhill and his orchestra.  They did more ballads than jumpin’ numbers so it’s not the bombastic blaring of powerhouse big bands.  It’s a more subtle sound that’s often dreamy without being too syrupy.  If you need any more convincing, consider that the cool sound that Miles Davis and Gil Evans “birthed” in 1949-50 was largely indebted to Claude Thornhill.  Evans was a former arranger for Thornhill.

A few more tidbits:

  • To see the connection between Claude Thornhill and one of my favorite Pittsburgh jazz vocalists, Maxine Sullivan, check out this post.

Enjoy the music of Claude and his contemporaries!

— Tim


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4 responses to “Check Out Claude Thornhill

  1. Jill

    Informative post, Tim. And you’ve convinced me to have a listen to Claude – have requested one of his music CDs.

    And thanks for promoting ” the work of the deserving yet overlooked.” Much appreciated.

  2. Thank you, Jill. I appreciate anyone who’s willing to try something new. And isn’t the public library the perfect place for risk-free sampling?

  3. For more on Thornhill see my article below on his volalist, Buddy Hughes. Sadly, Buddy passed away last Summer. I’d love to hear your comments. Thanks.

    • Thank you, Mr. Knack. Your article was especially welcome for two reasons: 1) it’s good to hear the perspective from a contemporaneous resource like that 1946 Downbeat magazine and 2) even better, it’s so great that you interviewed someone who was there in that era. Sorry to hear about Buddy, but I’m glad that you documented his reminiscing before he passed. He and Thornhill are not forgotten. Thanks for sharing!

      — Tim

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