The Big Band era in the United States had a long hand. A hand that stretched across the Atlantic and touched one of ours, Freddie Munnings Jr. This island boy along with local and many of the ex-patriots that resided in these islands ruled the big band era in the Bahamas. Although thee were other great Big Bands, such as The Lou Adams Orchestra, The Rudy Williams Orchestra, and several others. Of them all, because of his entrepreneurial spirit, FM gained great prominence on the Bahamian music scene. Having had the formal training at The New England Conservatory, Freddie brought in new elements to the Bahamian Big Band Sound. Making full use of the traditional voicings used in jazz writing, FM introduced tensions that were not commonly found in the music of the Islands. Our music was traditionally I, IV, V progressions in basic triadic form, but FM had to change all that as you will hear in the following arrangements.
The use of Latin percussion instruments further enhanced the textures of his arrangements. With Cuban and Haitian musicians frequenting the Island, and the capability to tune in on foreign radio stations, FM wield his pen much like a painter with a blank canvas and colorful ideas. Not sharing himself out of the fun, FM frequently played the clarinet adding yet a texture much like the Benny Goodman Big Band that was popular in America. Lets take a listen to the Freddie Munnings Orchestra, Bahamian Big Band.
The first arrangement that we'll listen to is entitled "Universal Meren", a merengue groove for big band. The rhythm section moved along like a train on a track with the drum at the controls. The scraper is used much like the saw in our traditional rake 'n' scrape music, and the horns demonstrated fine agility with well crafted sax soli lines, brass kicks, and classic jazz voicings. The arrangements uses all of the standard formats such as background lines for soloist etc... listen and enjoy.