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There’s a Big Bang theory that has to do with the origin and evolution of our universe (and a TV sitcom).

Then there’s a Big Band theory that has to do with the kind of music that was featured at the recent 20th annual Big Band Hangar Dance in tiny DeLand, Fl. (population 20,000) with the Benny Goodman Tribute Orchestra performing.

That’s where THIS is going—why several hundred people would buy tickets to hear (and dance to) music first popular in the 1930s and 1940s, (also known as “Swing,”) as is the case with the Hangar Dance.

Considering just two big bands out of the many that were popular in that era—Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller—their music is alive and thrilling today.

Goodman continued playing into his 70s, up until his death of a heart attack in 1986. His music was featured in a 2010 documentary narrated by Dustin Hoffman.

Terry Myers, a clarinetist as was Goodman, and his 17 piece orchestra-- legally called “The Benny Goodman Tribute Orchestra”-- play “Moonglow,” “And the Angels Sing,” “Jersey Bounce” and many other tunes from the Goodman “charts” or library.

"Don't Be That Way"
Benny Goodman and His OrchestraAnd Glenn Miller? The most famous critic and author of many books on big bands, including the best--“The Big Bands”—the late George T. Simon, said: “Of all the outstanding popular dance bands, the one that evokes the most memories of how wonderfully romantic it all was, the one whose music people most want to hear over and over again, is the band of the late Glenn Miller.”

Serenade/I Know Why
by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra with Pat Friday and John Payne
from "Sun Valley Serenade" (1941)
The top bands, in addition to Miller and Goodman, are generally credited to have been Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, and Harry James. Others included Les Brown, Count Basie, Jimmy Dorsey, and Guy Lombardo.

So, what is the Big Band Theory? The view here is that it involves pretty ballads—love songs with words one could understand; up-tempo tunes for “Lindy” dancing or “jitterbugging,” Latin tunes and waltzes. EVERYONE could dance to one of those genres, and they are held in sweet memories today.

Jack Fortes
DeLand, Florida
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