Horns ! The Brass section. Trumpets, Trombones, saxophones, French horns and, occasionally The Tuba. The horn section in American music was both its staple and it’s cornerstone. Going back to the early to mid 1920’s when America gave birth to “Big Bands The horns delivered the melody, harmony, rhythm, and deep bottom end. A typical configuration included 5 saxophones, 4 Trumpets, 4 Trombones and a Tuba, augmented and supported by a rhythm section of Guitar, Bass, Piano and Drums. Through the years, the typical line up would adjust accordingly as America’s Big Band sound morphed and matured into sub genres like “Dance Band” ” Stage Band” ” Jazz Band” and “Swing Bands” The popularity of this Brass enriched American sound dominated the sheet music business, saturated the fledgling radio industry, established a recorded music fever and even made a splash in The Movies in The 30’s and 40’s “Battles of the Bands” became the standard attraction every weekend at theaters and concert/ dance halls across the country, frequently featuring a half-dozen or more bands on the same bill. But!…No matter how popular the “Horn centric” sound of America’s music sounded in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s’ Audiences and taste’s change and mature and by the end of the 1940’s popular music in America placed less emphasis on the Brass section with traditional arrangements and began focusing more on inspired improvisation by a strong rhythm section perhaps including a trumpet and a “Reed” instrument It was called Bee Bop and by the beginning of the 1950’s the horn heavy sound of “Big Band” and “Swing” had all but vanished, and a new generation of music lovers were hungry for their own sound, and it certainly wouldn’t include a “Brass section……..UNTIL, of course, THE 1960’s ! Beginning in 1967 the sky’s opened up and it rained down Brass sections. We’re certain, here at SMS, that when you think of horn bands, Two bands come to mind…Chicago, and Blood Sweat and Tears. Two distinctively different groups but both focusing their power and creativity on their horn sections, an easy twenty years after the last vestiges of the Big Bands reverberated off in the distance!
Somehow, Chicago and Blood, Sweat, and Tears made horns COOL again… B,S, and T and Chicago made their debut’s in ’68 and ’69 respectively. However, did you know that in 1967 The Buckinghams scored 5 top twenty nit singles with a sound they called “Brass Rock”
Billboard magazine dubbed them “The most listened to band in America” But, we’re guessing you remember The Buckinghams as just another Top 40 band that got played too much. But not the members of Chicago and B, S, and T. They all credit The Buck’s with re – introducing horns into popular music and they took the idea, ran with it, and made “Brass Rock” the coolest new music on the radio, as well as selling millions and millions off records ! (it needs to be noted that Chicago’s first three albums were double record sets!….Unheard of !
Sooo, this brings up an old 1960’s argument…..The argument?….” who was better, “Chicago”, or “Blood, Sweat and Tears”?
We’re a curious bunch here at SMS and we gotta know, which team were you with….Team “Chicago” or Team”Blood Sweat and Tears” ?
Please comment back and let us know your preference and why !
To help aid your memory…Team Chicago
And of course…Team… Blood Sweat and Tears
P.S. Didja know that The Buckinghams, Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears were all produced at one point by the same man. James William Guercio….. Unbelievable!