The further evolution of jazz
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The Further Evolution of Jazz. GLST 490 – Day 7. Housekeeping Items. Any more reactions to the part of the video we watched on Thursday? I’d like to start scheduling genre presentations.

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GLST 490 – Day 7

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The further evolution of jazz

The Further Evolution of Jazz

GLST 490 – Day 7

Housekeeping items

Housekeeping Items

  • Any more reactions to the part of the video we watched on Thursday?

  • I’d like to start scheduling genre presentations.

  • Major project outlines are due on Thursday. With final assignments and genre presentations, reference your graphics.

  • Today we're going to cover big band/ swing, bebop, the changes that jazz underwent in the 1950s, and some of the racial and cultural political issues that accompanied the rise of jazz to the peak of its popularity. We're also going to discuss the reading for this week by Burton Peretti.

Schedule for genre presentations

Schedule for Genre Presentations

Gillian and Vanessa will be doing the journal option; who are we missing?

The historical context of jazz

The Historical Context of Jazz

  • The reading is fairly rambling and unfocused, so I'm going to try to draw together a few key threads...

  • When white musicians began playing ragtime and jazz music, they tended to get the better jobs because there was still tremendous discrimination against blacks (initially, blacks were not admitted to musicians' unions). As black musicians often lived and worked in rougher neighbourhoods and earned lower wages, they were more likely to get involved in crime, such as pimping and drug pushing. Pot use was also widespread, and many succumbed, or were temporarily sidelined, by heroine addiction.

Hearths and sub hearths for jazz

Hearths and Sub-Hearths for Jazz

The historical context of jazz1

The Historical Context of Jazz

  • As early as 1906, ragtime and jazz “piano professors” (e.g. Jelly Roll Morton) and “territory bands” criss-crossed the United States bringing the new music to all parts of the country (usually in seedy venues) and inspiring their fellow musicians, while exchanging new ideas and tricks of the trade. Earlier, the minstrel shows had done the same thing – prior to radio, they created a national culture around popular songs and music.

  • The era in which ragtime and jazz was born and evolved was a time of tremendous social, economic, and technological change. This took a number of forms:

The historical context of jazz2

The Historical Context of Jazz

  • massive waves of immigration, primarily from Europe;

  • the migration of blacks to the cities of the North, as they sought the growing economic opportunities associated with industry, and escape from the rampant racism of the South (the collision with resistant whites often led to race riots);

  • the introduction of Fordism and Taylorism (assembly-line approaches) into the workplace;

  • labour and political struggles;

  • the growing urbanization of the nation;

  • the technological innovations association with automobiles, planes, telephones, telegraphs, electric lights, and radio;

The historical context of jazz3

The Historical Context of Jazz

  • the loss of innocence occasioned by World War I, the first truly 'modern' war that saw horrible casualties;

  • the growing social (and later economic) independence of women who got the vote in 1920, along with a general rebellion by young people against the puritanical morals of earlier generations. For them, ragtime and jazz were the perfect expression of this loosening of constraints. Clubs, sometimes owned by gangsters, catered to this.

  • Jazz expressed the excitement of these bold times, the general speeding up of life's pace, the embrace of the new. The '20s became known as the “Jazz Age” or the “Roaring Twenties.”

Big band swing

Big Band/ Swing

  • All of these trends also produced a cultural and political backlash, one manifestation of which was Prohibition (passed in 1920), and another was the abuse heaped on jazz as encouraging promiscuity and and loose morals. One music educators' journal described jazz as being associated with “vile surroundings, filthy words, unmentionable dances and obscene plays.”

  • As mentioned last time, Fletcher Henderson, a black bandleader largely originated the big band sound in the '20s, which was then copied by the new white bands coming up, often using the services of black arrangers.

Big band swing1

Big Band/ Swing

  • Just as Elvis became the “king” of rock n' roll after imitating the music of black artists, Benny Goodman, a clarinetist and son of a poor Russian Jewish immigrant, became the “King of Swing” after imitating the music of artists like Henderson.

  • Nonetheless, Benny's band really swung, and he was one of the first to make use of black musicians.

Big band swing2

Big Band/ Swing

  • These included singer Billie Holliday and guitarist Charlie Christian. This was risky both for the bandleader and for the individual artist, since these bands toured everywhere, including in the Deep South, where race mixing was frowned upon. Black musicians would have to lodge separately from their white counterparts, and sometimes encountered abuse on the bandstand.

  • Other prominent white big bandleaders included Artie Shaw, and Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. Black bandleaders included Duke Ellington and Count Basie, though there were many more. Prominent singers and soloists included Earl Hines, Art Tatum, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, and Sarah Vaughan, etc.

Big band swing3

Big Band/ Swing

  • A significant thing about swing/ big band was that, in the 30s and 40s, it was the dominant form of popular music. This was the first and last time jazz achieved this status.

  • As with the advent of rock n' roll (and even ragtime, as we heard in the video), swing was seen by some as lewd, lascivious, and encouraging sexual promiscuity and race mixing.

  • Big band musicians, such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonius Monk, Bud Powell, and Max Roach would often practice and jam after their gigs in clubs and apartments, and they began to evolve a new music.

The emergence of bebop

The Emergence of Bebop

  • This new music – bebop – is seen by some as having been a reaction to the over-commercial-izationof jazz by musicians who wanted to do music that was more challenging. It is also thought to have been a reaction to the cultural appropriation of swing by whites. Black musicians supposedly wanted to create a music that would be 'hard to steal.'

  • Bebop was fast, it sometimes used popular songs as a base, but it usually created scales and chords that were quite novel in the history of jazz.

  • Some black jazz musicians hated it; Louis Armstrong called it “Chinese music.”

The emergence of bebop1

The Emergence of Bebop

  • Bebop was

  • more focused on small combos

  • its tempo was faster and the mood more agitated

  • it rarely used clarinet and rhythm guitar

  • there was a stronger emphasis on instrumental virtuousity

  • arrangements were more spontaneous (as opposed to charted)‏

  • melodies, harmonies and rhythms were more complex

  • piano playing was less regularized and drumming was not restricted to 'time-keeping.'



  • Though first developed in 1939-40, it was not recorded until 1944-45 because a musicians' strike between 1942 and 1944 meant that no records involving jazz musicians were made for over two years. Once that was lifted, bebop recordings began to be made.

“hipster” style

popularized by

Dizzy Gillespie

The dance of black and white culture

The ‘Dance’ of Black and White Culture

  • Blacks and whites in America had a very uneasy relationship with one another.

  • On the one hand, whites tended to (want to) keep blacks in their “place,” but on the other hand, they were fascinated by aspects of their music, culture, dance, and approach to life and sexuality.

  • Black culture represented the “shadow” side of white culture, all those things that were rather repressed.

  • For blacks, music represented one of the few routes out of poverty and an acceptable pursuit in the eyes of white society. They also infused African traditions with European music theory to produce something truly new.

  • This ‘something new’ has been called the “classical music” of America, though the musical mandarins didn’t notice it right under their noses.

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