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Swing and the Big Bands. Jazz In the 1920s. much of the most popular music called jazz reflects a "slapstick" phase. new interest in the blues.

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Jazz in the 1920s

Jazz In the 1920s

much of the most popular music called jazz reflects a "slapstick" phase.

new interest in the blues.

"As jazz expands in the 1920s, it becomes increasingly difficult to sort out the many strands of direct or indirect influences, of concurrent or successive developments, and of regional musical-social characteristics" (Schuller 1968, p. 242).


The odjb in new york
The ODJB in New York

  • Original Dixieland Jazz Band opened at one of the Reisenweber restaurants (Jan. 1917).

  • possibly first to introduce the New Orleans style to New York.

  • Reaction of other band leaders:

    • attempted to cash in on its popularity.

    • attack the music, presumably on esthetic-musical grounds.


James reese europe
James Reese Europe

  • important transitional figure.

  • his bands could play with impeccable intonation and execution.

  • most noted for '"pushing the limits," creating excitement and rhythmic momentum.

  • "Europe, in fact, accomplished what other orchestras failed to do: playing ragtime pieces in orchestration as fast as the piano players did" (Schuller 1968, p. 242).


New or younger jazz musicians
“New” or Younger Jazz Musicians

“. . . a new generation of Negro musicians, unheralded and practically unnoticed, was quietly slipping into New York" (Schuller 1968, pp. 251-2).

  • jazz in some form had always been available.

  • see jazz as a profession capable of providing income. .

  • Ability to read music.

  • Technical ability on their instrument.

  • Knowledge of music theory.


New generation cont d
New Generation cont’d.

  • The most talented musicians “developed in their own directions and hoped they would be recorded,” (Schuller 1968, p. 243) while others imitated those who had already proven successful.

  • Cross-fertilization - the reading, non-improvising, instrumentally schooled musician combined with the less literate, though not necessarily less gifted, counterpart.


Transmission of the music
Transmission of the Music

  • Recording and broadcast industries.

    • a new, larger listening audience.

    • breaking down regional boundaries, increasing awareness of musicians.


Big bands
Big Bands

  • By the end of the 1920s, the primary vehicle for jazz had become the "Big Band.“

  • pre-existing format:

    • society and syncopated dance bands of the early 1900s.

    • “polyphonic” conception of jazz (collective improvisation) gave way to a more homophonic approach (written arrangements).

    • Increased emphasis on block chords, parallel voicing, and “section” writing.


Larger ensembles
Larger Ensembles

  • Typical instrumentation included:

    • Woodwinds – Saxophones (often 5) who may double on clarinet or flute.

    • Brass – Trumpets (3-4) and Trombones (3-4).

    • Rhythm section – piano, bass, drums, guitar.


Factors leading to success
Factors Leading to Success

  • In "The Big Bands," George T. Simon lists four factors that contributed to the success of certain bands:

    • the band's musical style, generally established by the band's musical director (leader and/or arranger).

    • the musicians - ability to read, improvise, attitude, cooperation.

    • singers.

    • the leader assumed the most vital and responsible role.


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