The Postal Service issued four 32-cent Big Band Leaders commemorative stamps on September 11, 1996, in New York City. These stamps were the first additions to the Postal Service's 1996 Legends of American Music Series. This series began in 1993 and features all generations of American music, including folk, classical, opera, and gospel.
Designed by Bill Nelson of Richmond, Virginia, the Big Band Leaders stamps portray Count Basie, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, and Benny Goodman. In addition, these big band leaders were also accomplished musicians: Basie (pianist), Tommy Dorsey and Miller (trombonists), Jimmy Dorsey (clarinetist and saxophonist), and Goodman (clarinetist). In the 1930s, big bands defined jazz, swing, and popular music. They were heard late at night on radio networks "live" from ballrooms in cities and small towns, on 78 rpm records, and in person, seven shows a day, and between movies at downtown theaters. The bands were typically made-up of fifteen or sixteen musicians on brass, woodwind, and rhythm instruments.
Ashton-Potter (USA), Ltd., printed the stamps, in panes of twenty, using the offset process.
Postal Bulletin (August 15, 1996).