Benny Goodman's Jazz, And The Swing Era

863 Words2 Pages

The word “jazz” is significant to America, and it has many meanings. Jazz could simply be defined as a genre or style of music that originated in America, but it can also be described as a movement which “bounced into the world somewhere about the year 1911…” . This is important because jazz is constantly changing, evolving, adapting, and improvising. By analyzing the creators, critics, and consumers of jazz in the context of cultural, political, and economic issue, I will illustrate the movement from the 1930’s swing era to the birth of bebop and modern jazz. As the 1930’s began, the effects of the great depression still ravaged the United States, which in turned caused a dramatic change in the music industry. Membership in the musicians’ Goodman was perhaps the most recorded artist during the swing era, which helped make him a symbol of the swing era. In the late 1930’s, as war clouds gathered, jazz reached the pinnacle of popularity. Musicians’ skills and promoters’ efforts had made possible the success of “swing” . In the two years after the war began in September 1939, government spending for war production and defense reinvigorated the American economy and ended the great depression. Although the swing music that helped keep American spirits up during the Depression years still existed, there was an increasing amount of racial tension about bands formed by white men vs. bands formed by black men. White bands like Tommy Dorsey’s, which could play a broad spectrum of music, were hailed for their versatility. The black counterparts who sought to do the same were often indirectly accused of trying to get above themselves . This is important because many black musicians where losing work due to venues only hiring bands that were led by white men. Out work, or underpaid black musicians where often bought-out by white bandleaders who could offer them higher pay, and where looking for the best musicians they could find. This type of integration went both ways, as black bands would hire young, adolescent white musicians in an effort to get more Jazz went to war, too, and would serve to remind men and woman of home. On the home front, the music industry found itself struggling once again. Black-outs and late-night curfews darkened some nightclubs and dance halls. “The rationing of rubber and gasoline eventually drove most band buses off the roads, and the draft stole away good musicians... At one point during the fighting there were 39 band leaders in the army… Glen Miller, whose infectious hits like “In the Mood” epitomized the war years, disbanded his own hugely successful [jazz] orchestra, enlisted, and formed an all-star air force unit that some believe was the best band he ever had – and died in 1944 when his airplane disappeared over the English channel.” With the capitol of many bandleaders declining, and so musicians being drafted, or enlisting, it became inevitable that in order to progress, the jazz ensemble would have to become smaller. Musicians that were not enlisted, but out of work, began to meet up at local clubs and perform, and were often unpaid, but happy to at least be able to play with other musicians. By this time a major change in jazz was afoot, and a young trumpet player named Dizzy Gillespie formed his own small prototype group at the Onyx Club in New York. This group met regularly and played original music based on popular swing tunes, with improvised melodies, and modified chordal structure. This new music was called bebop,

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