A big band is a large musical ensemble that plays jazz music, especially swing.

The band is divided up into a number of sections, by instrument; each section usually has four or more members. All bands usually have a rhythm section, made up of drum set, bass, piano, and possibly guitar. There are also sections for trumpets, trombones, and saxophones (who sometimes double on flute or clarinet).

Sometimes there will also be a percussion section, especially if the band plays latin jazz or salsa music.

Big band music peaked in popularity during the 1940s, and much of the best-known popular music of the era was recorded by them. The bands of Cab Calloway, Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, Woody Herman, Glenn Miller, Boyd Raeburn, Paul Whiteman, Artie Shaw, Les Brown are amongst the best known.

Details of all known Big Bands can be found on The Big Bands Database plus at [1].

This is a list of band leaders who worked mainly in Britain taken from Julien Vedey's book Band Leaders (London, 1950):

  • Jack Hylton
  • Debroy Somers
  • Carroll Gibbons
  • Harry Roy
  • Jack Payne
  • Ambrose (Bert Ambrose)
  • Henry Hall (BBC Dance Orchestra)
  • Jay Whidden
  • Billy Cotton
  • Lew Stone
  • Stanley Black
  • Joe Loss
  • Major Glenn Miller
  • Ted Heath
  • Geraldo
  • Eric Winstone
  • Cyril Stapleton
  • Edmundo Ros
  • Oscar Rabin and Harry Davis
  • Victor Silvester
  • Billy Ternent
  • Ivy Benson
  • Tito Burns
  • Harry Parry
  • Ray Ellington
  • Harry Davidson
  • Harry Leader
  • Jack Jackson