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The Big Band Era

This presentation contains information and musical examples of music of the Big Band Era

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The Big Band Era

  1. 1. TheThe Big BandBig Band EraEra
  2. 2. In 20th century United States, each succeeding generation embraced its own immensely popular, rhythmically strong and rebellious musical forms that were danced to and listened to for entertainment.
  3. 3. At the turn of the century, from approximately 1897 to 1918, the music that was most popular in America was Ragtime. Scott Joplin: “Maple Leaf Rag” (Next Slide) Composer & Pianist Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe, a.k.a. “Jelly Roll” Morton
  4. 4. Then in the post World War One period, the country entered the Jazz Age during the 1920s. (Next Slide) King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band: Canal Street Blues King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band circa 1923
  5. 5. During the 1920s, one of the earliest and most influential of the big bands was the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. (Next Slide) The Charleston Dance (composed in 1923 by James P. Johnson) Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra, circa 1925
  6. 6. Then, following the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the period known as the Jazz Age came to an abrupt end with the onset of the Great Depression, the worldwide economic downturn that lasted from 1929 to approximately 1941. During this time, a new beat and a new style of music known as “Swing” emerged with the music of The Big Bands.
  7. 7. What Is A Big Band? The standard instrumentation for a big band is 17 instruments, as follows: 5 Saxophones,* (2 Alto Saxes, 2 Tenor Saxes, 1 Baritone Sax) 4 Trumpets / 4 Trombones Rhythm Section: Piano / Bass / Drums / Guitar *In some big bands, a clarinet was occasionally used instead of or in addition to alto saxophone. Also, some big bands occasionally used a small section of string instruments, such as violins and cellos. Many of the big bands used the term “orchestra” to describe themselves, such as the Glenn Miller Orchestra or the Count Basie Orchestra.
  8. 8. The style of jazz called Swing began to be embraced by the American public around 1935. Radio broadcasts of live performances increased interest in the music, and it grew in popularity throughout the States. As with many new popular musical styles, Swing music was initially met with some resistance from the public because of its use of improvisation, fast tempos, the lack of string instruments, and the sometimes frenetic swing dancing that accompanied performances. Audiences that had become used to earlier, more “romantic” sounding musical arrangements were initially taken aback by the new and sometimes “erratic” or “edgy” sound of Swing music.
  9. 9. The marquee of the legendary Savoy Ballroom (1926-1958) Lennox Avenue between 140th & 141st Streets in New York City’s Harlem
  10. 10. Plaque on the original site of the Savoy Ballroom Here once stood the legendary Savoy Ballroom, a hothouse for the development of jazz in the Swing era. Visually dazzling and spacious, the Savoy nightly featured the finest jazz bands in the nation, and its house bands included such famous orchestras as those of Fess Williams, Chick Webb, and Teddy Hill. The great jazz dancers who appeared on its block-long floor ranged from professionals like Whitey's Lindy Hoppers to everyday Harlemites. During a time of racial segregation and strife, the Savoy was one of the most culturally and racially integrated of institutions, and its fame was international. It was the heartbeat of Harlem's community and a testament to the indomitable spirit and creative impulse of African-Americans. It was a catalyst for innovation where dancers and musicians blended influences to forge new, wide-spread, and long-lasting traditions in music and dance. Whether they attended or not, all Americans knew the meaning of "Stompin' at the Savoy."
  11. 11. Drummer & Big Band Leader Chick Webb (1905-1939) Stompin' At The Savoy (1934) (Next Slide)
  12. 12. Drummer & Big Band Leader Chick Webb (1905-1939) St. Louis Blues (1939) (Next Slide)
  13. 13. The marquee of the legendary Cotton Club in New York City 1923-1940
  14. 14. Pianist, Big Band Leader & Composer Duke Ellington (1899-1974) “Take The A Train” (1943) (Next Slide)
  15. 15. Trombonist & Big Band Leader Glenn Miller (1904-1944) In The Mood (1939) (Next Slide)
  16. 16. Trombonist & Big Band Leader Glenn Miller (1904-1944) Moonlight Serenade (1939) (Next Slide)
  17. 17. Pianist & Big Band Leader Count Basie (1904-1984) Swingin’ The Blues (1941) (Next Slide) (begin at 1’42”) The Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ a 1400-seat concert hall……...…
  18. 18. Trombonist & Big Band Leader Tommy Dorsey (1905-1956) Opus One (1944) (Next Slide)
  19. 19. Trombonist & Big Band Leader Tommy Dorsey (1905-1956) I’m Getting Sentimental Over You (1935) (Next Slide)
  20. 20. Trombonist & Big Band Leader Tommy Dorsey (1905-1956) Star Dust (1940) featuring Frank Sinatra & The Pied Pipers (begin at 0’30”) (Next Slide)
  21. 21. Clarinetist & Big Band Leader Benny Goodman (1909-1986) Known As “The King Of Swing” Sing, Sing, Sing (Next Slide)
  22. 22. Clarinetist & Big Band Leader Benny Goodman (1909-1986) “Why Don’t You Do Right” featuring Peggy Lee from the 1943 movie “Stage Door Canteen.” (Next Slide)
  23. 23. After World War Two, musical tastes began to change and the audiences for big band music, which had been popular for more than a decade, began to shrink. In response, some of the big bands disbanded, while others continued to perform and tour, but with fewer musicians. A handful of big bands, such as those of Count Basie and Duke Ellington, survived and continued to perform well into the 1960s and 1970s. Several of the “big-name bands” such as those of Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller, were “reincarnated” with new leaders and new musicians, but still using the old familiar arrangements for which they became so popular and famous back in the 1930s.
  24. 24. As of 2011, more than 60 years after the end of the Big Band Era, both the Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington orchestras were continuing to tour and perform. As of 2015, only the Glenn Miller Orchestra is still performing.
  25. 25. Following the Swing Era, Rhythm and Blues developed in the late 1940's, which was eventually brought to commercial fruition in 1955 by Elvis Presley in the form of Rock and Roll. Then in the 1960s the Beatles, followed by thousands of other bands, presented Rock with its seemingly endless variations including such variations as Acid Rock, Heavy Metal, New Wave, Punk Rock, Pop Rock, Indie Rock and so on.
  26. 26. Although the Jazz Age and the Swing Era ended, Jazz as an important musical style has continued to evolve and grow up to the present time. Following the end of the Swing Era, many other styles of Jazz developed. The 1940s and 1950s saw the development of such new and distinct forms of Jazz as Bebop, Afro-Cuban Jazz, Cool Jazz, Hard Bop, Modal Jazz and Free Jazz.
  27. 27. The 1960s and 1970s saw the development of Latin jazz, Post-Bop, Soul Jazz, Jazz Fusion and Jazz Funk. The 1980s to the present have seen the development of Smooth Jazz Acid Jazz, Nu Jazz, Jazz Rap, Punk Jazz, Jazzcore and a style called M-Base. With music from its many periods and forms including the Big Band Era, Jazz continues to be a major cultural influence today throughout the United States and the world.

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