Jazz Swing Era

Topics: Jazz, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong Pages: 16 (3532 words) Published: June 3, 2008

The Swing Era (1932-1942)
Post Depression (1929)
Big Bands become prominent
Instrumentation: 4-5 trumpets, 4 trombones, 5 saxophones (woodwinds), piano, bass, drums, guitar •Arranger becomes much more important
Written out arrangements with less, or little, improvisation •Some up-tempo tunes
Many more ballads with jazz interpretation
Music often for dancing
Music become a big business
Recordings were now very important
Recording companies now exercised control over music
Record salesbecame the determining factor of success, (popularity vs. quality issue) commercialism •Arrangements & improvised solos confined to much less time in order to adjust to three minute records to fit in juke boxes •Situation doesn't change until 1948 with 33 1/3 rpm records

About the record business
Gold record: sells over a million dollars
Platinum record: sells over a million units
By 1988 there were 2800 record companies, but:
In 1933, only 3 record companies existed: 1. American Record Company, which owned a. Columbia; b. Brunswick; c. Vocalian; 2. Victor Records & subsidiary, Bluebird; 3. Decca Records •1938: Start of Comodore Records

1939: Start of legendary Blue Note Records
Because there were hundreds of bands and band leaders, there was a perceived need for an identifying signature, gimmick or attraction •Glenn Miller - clarinet melody over the sax section
Tommy Dorsey - his trombone sound with sweet tone and control •Small groups of soloists became identified with some bands, e.g., Goodman: Krupa, Hampton, Herman, Getz 1933 - Repeal of Volstead act (Prohibition)

Ballrooms attract thousands of people
Even in small towns thousands show up for concerts/dances •Jazz becomes very popular
Surge in popularity of dancing; many dance every night
Elements of Swing music
4/4 rhythm prevalent again (like Ragtime and New Orleans Style Dixieland) •"Walking Bass" line begins to develop
More role playing for musicians in the band such as leaders, section players & soloists Early Bands and Figures
in New York
Fletcher Henderson
Arranger and pianist, worked with fellow arranger Don Redman •Credited with setting the big band instrumentation, independent horn sections in Kansas City
Benny Moten Band
More riff-like, less prearranged, more blues influenced William "Count"Basie (1904-1984)
Was in New York in the 1920s
Joined a road show & became stranded in Kansas City
Joined the Benny Moten Band
Started his own band with many of Moten's players
When Moten died Basie took over his band
Developed the idea of "comping" or "accompanying" jazz piano •Piano is no longer a time keeper
Piano punctuates freely and compliments the soloists and the band •Basie had good technique; then, during recuperation from an injury to his hand he developed the "Plink Plink" piano style (very sparse playing style) Ben Webster (1909-1973) (more info below in the Ellington Key Personnel Section) •Virtuoso tenor saxophonist; innovative; had a breathy tone •With Ellington 1940-1943, 1948-49

Count Basie,
Photo from Verve records
Coleman Hawkins "Hawk" (1904-1969)
Played piano & cello as a child
Joined Fletcher Henderson in 1924
1934-39: toured Europe
1941: led the first "Bebop" recording featuring Dizzy Gillespie •A "hot" tenor player (in contrast, Lester Young with Basie was a "cool" tenor player) •Always used younger musicians
His "Body and Soul" recording is a jazz landmark
Aggressive concept, heavy vibrato
Had a very advanced harmonic concept
Jagged tritone substitutions and altered dominant sounds like Art Tatum •Pointed the way of improvisation in the future
Don Byas (1912-1972)
Virtuosic tenor saxophonist; breathy sound and vibrato
Played with Don Redman, Basie, Gillespie bands
Spent a long time in Europe
Lester Young (1909-1959) "Prez"
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