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Swing-Big Band



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Description

Swing music, also known as swing jazz or simply swing, is a form of jazz music that developed in the early 1930s and became a distinctive style by 1935 in the United States. Swing uses a strong rhythm section of double bass and drums as the anchor for a lead section of brass instruments such as trumpets and trombones, woodwinds including saxophones and clarinets, and sometimes stringed instruments such as violin and guitar, medium to fast tempos, and a "lilting" swing time rhythm. Swing bands usually featured soloists who would improvise on the melody over the arrangement. The danceable swing style of bandleaders such as Benny Goodman and Count Basie was the dominant form of American popular music from 1935 to 1945.

The verb "to swing" is also used as a term of praise for playing that has a strong rhythmic "groove" or drive.  - Text from: Wikipedia-Swing Jazz

1920s: Origins

The styles of jazz that were popular from the late teens through the late 1920s were usually played with rhythms with a two beat feel, and often attempted to reproduce the style of contrapuntal improvisation developed by the first generation of jazz musicians in New Orleans. In the late 1920s, however, larger ensembles using written arrangements became the norm, and a subtle stylistic shift took place in the rhythm, which developed a four beat feel with a smoothly syncopated style of playing the melody, while the rhythm section supported it with a steady four to the bar.

Like jazz, swing was created by African Americans, and its impact on the overall American culture was such that it marked and named an entire era of the USA, the swing era - as the 1920s had been termed "The Jazz Age". Such an influence from the black community was unprecedented in any western country. Swing music abandoned the string orchestra and used simpler, "edgier" arrangements that emphasized horns and wind instruments and improvised melodies.

Louis Armstrong shared a different version of the history of swing during a nationwide broadcast of the Bing Crosby (radio) Show  Crosby said, "We have as our guest the master of swing and I'm going to get him to tell you what swing music is." Armstrong said, "Ah, swing, well, we used to call it syncopation—then they called it ragtime, then blues—then jazz. Now, it's swing. White folks yo'all sho is a mess. - Text from: Wikipedia-Swing Jazz

1930: Birth of swing

Compared to the styles of the 1920s, the overall effect was a more sophisticated sound, but with an exciting feel of its own.  Most jazz bands adopted this style by the early 1930s, but "sweet" bands remained the most popular for white dancers until Benny Goodman's appearance at the Palomar Ballroom in August 1935. Swing's birth has been traced by some jazz historians to Chick Webb's stand in Harlem in 1931, but they noted the music failed to take off because the onset of the Depression in earnest that year killed the nightclub business, particularly in poor black areas like Harlem. Fletcher Henderson, another bandleader from this period who needed work, lent his arrangement talent to Goodman. Goodman had auditioned and won a spot on a radio show, "Let's Dance," but only had a few songs; he needed more. Henderson's arrangements are what gave him his bigger repertoire and distinctive sound. The show was on after midnight in the East and few people heard it, but unknown to them, it was on earlier on the West Coast and developed the audience that later led to his Palomar Ballroom triumph. The audience of young white dancers favored Goodman's "hot" rhythms and daring swing arrangements. "Hot Swing" and Boogie Woogie remained the dominant form of American popular music for the next ten years.

With the wider acceptance of swing music around 1935, larger mainstream bands began to embrace this style of music. Up until the swing era, Jazz had been taken in high regard by the most serious musicians around the world, including classical composers like Stravinsky; swing on the contrary, with its "dance craze", ended being regarded as a degeneration towards light entertainment, more of an industry to sell records to the masses than a form of art. Many musicians after failing at serious music switched to swing.

In his autobiography W.C. Handy wrote, "This brings to mind the fact that prominent white orchestra leaders, concert singers and others are making commercial use of Negro music in its various phases. That's why they introduced "swing" which is not a musical form. - Text from: Wikipedia-Swing Jazz

Notable musicians

- Text from: Wikipedia-Swing Jazz


Big Band


A big band is a type of musical ensemble associated with jazz and the Swing Era typically consisting of rhythm, brass, and woodwind instruments totaling approximately twelve to twenty-five musicians. The terms jazz band, jazz ensemble, jazz orchestra, stage band, society band, and dance band may describe this type of ensemble in particular contexts.

A standard 17-piece instrumentation evolved in the big-bands, for which many commercial arrangements are available. This instrumentation consists of five saxophones (most often two altos, two tenors, and one baritone), four trumpets, four trombones (often including one bass trombone) and a four-piece rhythm section (composed of drums, acoustic bass or electric bass, piano and guitar).

There are two distinct periods in the history of popular bands. Beginning in the mid-1920s, big bands, then typically consisting of 10–25 pieces, came to dominate popular music. At that time they usually played a form of jazz that involved very little improvisation, which included a string section with violins, which was dropped after the introduction of swing in 1935. The dance form of jazz was characterized by a sweet and romantic melody. Typical of the genre were such popular artists as Paul Whiteman, Ted Lewis, Harry Reser, Leo Reisman, Abe Lyman, Nat Shilkret, George Olsen, Ben Bernie, Bob Haring, Ben Selvin, Earl Burnett, Gus Arnheim, Henry Halstead, Rudy Vallee, Jean Goldkette, Glen Gray, Isham Jones, Roger Wolfe Kahn, Sam Lanin, James Last, Vincent Lopez, Ben Pollack, Shep Fields and Fred Waring.

- Text from: Wikipedia-Big Band


Note:  Descriptions and definitions provided on this page are taken from various sources as noted that can be found on the Internet.  Jazz 98.5 does not assume responsibility for the accuracy of any information provided.