Charles Daly Barnet, 26 October 1913, New York City, New York, USA, d. 4 September 1991, San Diego, California, USA. Of all the swing era band leaders, Barnet was the one most able to do as he pleased. Born into a rich New York family, he played piano and reed instruments while still at school and by his teens had decided that he wanted to play jazz. For a number of years he played on ocean-going liners, often as leader, and also paid his dues in numerous bands across the USA. He formed his first mainland big band in 1933 and, on and off, continued to lead a band throughout the swing era. Barnet could afford to indulge his whims and his musical preferences and did so. Although he lived riotously, marrying six times, he adopted high musical standards and refused to compromise on commercial matters. Barnet was also a leading figure in breaking racial taboos in the hiring of black musicians, and as early as 1935 he had a mixed-race band. Over the years, the roster of...
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