Chapter Study Outline

  1. Arabian Nights
    1. Although different urban areas are considered central to the development of jazz at different times (New Orleans, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles), New York has remained central since the 1920s. There are three interlocking spheres of influence that can account for this: commercial, sociological, and musical.
      1. Commercial
        1. The entertainment infrastructure is based in New York. As jazz became more commercial, it needed access to this infrastructure.
      2. Sociological
        1. New York was a magnet for immigrants. Contributors to jazz, if not African American, came from immigrant families, especially Jews, whose music contains pentatonic scales and improvisation, making it particularly compatible with jazz.
      3. Musical
        1. The growth of big bands and swing and the simultaneous interest in social dancing during the 1920s and 1930s were the most significant contribution of New York during this early period. When Ellington arrived in New York in 1923, he described New York as just like "Arabian Nights."
  2. Transformations
    1. Recordings, Radio, and the Movies
      1. In 1925 electrical recording provided sound with much higher fidelity than acoustic recording. This was particularly beneficial for jazz since now drums, cymbals, and polyphonic textures were much clearer. Phonographs and discs became much cheaper as well.
      2. With the invention of the carbon microphone, and then the condenser microphone, radio broadcasts became much clearer, starting around 1921. NBC and CBS became national networks in 1926 and 1927, respectively. One result was that people stayed at home to listen to the radio and started buying recordings to listen to at home.
      3. Movies started using sound in 1927, proving that recorded dialogue was marketable with the film The Jazz Singer. Radio and recordings spread jazz faster than any music in history. Speed changed everything. Musical styles wore out much more quickly now, so jazz developed quickly.
    2. Prohibition
      1. In 1920, Congress passed the Eighteenth Amendment, making the manufacture and selling of alcohol illegal. (It was repealed in 1932.) The result was a vast web of illegal drinking establishments usually controlled by organized crime.
      2. Owners of these "speakeasies" competed by hiring the best entertainers they could afford, including jazz musicians. The demands for music were so high that only jazz musicians- who could improvise-could provide enough.
  3. Dance Bands and Symphonic Jazz
    1. Between 1917 (ODJB recordings) and 1923 (King Oliver recordings) there seemed to be a dry spell, but in New York, jazz came into contact with and borrowed from many kinds of music: pop music (Tin Pan Alley), New Orleans jazz imitators, marching bands, and vaudeville, including comic saxophone ensembles, blues singers, and jazz and ragtime dancers. It was also found in ballrooms and concert halls. Two figures, both from San Francisco, led this last process: Art Hickman and Paul Whiteman.
    2. Art Hickman-pianist, drummer, and songwriter- heard jazz on the Barbary Coast in San Francisco and started his own band in 1913 using trumpet, trombone, violin, two or three banjos, and for the first time, two saxophones. The saxes added a smoother sound compared to the brass-heavy New Orleans ensembles, establishing them as an important part of the jazz ensemble.
      1. In 1919 Victor brought Hickman's band to New York, partly in response to the success of the ODJB. But Hickman disliked New York and left, leaving an opening for Whiteman.
    3. Paul Whiteman (1890-1967)
      1. Eventually promoted as "King of Jazz," Whiteman was the first pop superstar. He embodied the issue of the definition of jazz: was it an improvised, raucous music and an art in itself, or a quasi-symphonic music in which jazz was used only as a source for other music?
      2. Born in Denver, he studied viola, played with the Denver Symphony Orchestra, and then moved to San Francisco, where he played with the symphony orchestra and started his own ragtime band. In 1919 he started a ballroom band, which was successful in Los Angeles, Atlantic City, and New York, at the high-end Palais Royal.
      3. In 1920 he released his first record, "Whispering/Japanese Sandman," which was a tremendous hit. Whiteman's band was larger than Hickman's.
      4. In 1924 Whiteman put on a concert at Aeolian Hall in New York to prove that classical music can uplift lowbrow jazz. The concert started with a jokey "Livery Stable Blues" and ended with George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue to illustrate his point.
      5. He called the fusion of European art-music sensibilities and African American folk art "symphonic jazz." It tried to reflect the modernism of big-city life and to democratize high art. (A number of classical composers in Europe and America had already fused these two musics.)
    4. Bing Crosby and Bill Challis
      1. Whiteman knew that improvised jazz was becoming more popular, so in 1926 he decided to hire some jazz musicians, preferably black. His manager talked him out of hiring black musicians for practical business reasons, but that did not stop him from using Fletcher Henderson arrangements or hiring African American composers such as William Grant Still.
      2. Whiteman was one of the first bandleaders to hire a full-time singer. In this case it was Bing Crosby, a pop-music singer who heard Louis Armstrong in Chicago in 1926, adopted some of Armstrong's rhythmic and improvisational vocal style, and became the most popular singer in the first half of the twentieth century. In doing so, Crosby paved the way for whites to accept Armstrong's style. In turn, Crosby inspired Armstrong to include ballads in his repertoire.
      3. Whiteman hired jazz instrumentalists such as Bix Beiderbecke, Frank Trumbauer, Eddie Land, Joe Venuti, and arranger Bill Challis. As a result, Whiteman released some innovative jazz recordings from 1927 to 1929, when the Depression precluded forays into jazz for more commercially profitable music.
      4. In 1927 Whiteman's band represented three conflicting streams: jazz, symphonic jazz, and pop. Challis incorporated all three into his arrangement of "Changes."
    5. Fletcher Henderson (1897-1952)
      1. Like many aspiring musicians, Henderson wanted to emulate Whiteman, but he took big-band music into a much different, and influential, direction. Henderson grew up in a middle-class home in Georgia, studied classical piano, went to Atlanta University, where he received a degree in chemistry, and then went to New York to get a graduate degree. Instead, however, he started playing blues with Ethel Waters and Bessie Smith.
      2. He then went on to organize dance bands. He landed a job at the prestigious midtown, whites-only Roseland Ballroom, where the band played foxtrots, tangos, and waltzes. He had access to the best black players in New York. But, like Whiteman, he needed to keep up with the changing dance scene.
      3. By 1926 the Henderson band was considered the best dance band anywhere, a reputation that continued until the Ellington band started gaining notice starting in 1927. Henderson's arranger, Don Redman, set the model for arranging, and Henderson was influential on swing music of the 1930s through his arrangements and compositions.
        1. Redman treated the band as a unit made up of four instrumental sections: reeds, trumpets, trombones, and rhythm. This format remains unchanged today.
        2. From 1924 to 1934, the band grew to fifteen players (three reeds, three trumpets, two or three trombones, and four rhythm instruments).
      4. In 1924 Henderson decided to add a third trumpet and Louis Armstrong joined his band.
        1. Although the country boy from the South was an awkward fit among the big-city, slick musicians, his playing influenced Redman's arranging style to better fit the sense of swing and blues that Armstrong brought to the band.
        2. Armstrong also took Redman's ideas of fanciful breaks and pop melodies into the Hot Five and Seven recording sessions. Redman not only launched big-band jazz, he also linked Oliver's Creole Jazz Band to Armstrong's Hot Five.
      5. Henderson showcased top black musicians throughout his entire career, from Armstrong and Hawkins to Eldridge and Webster, among others. No other big-band leader can lay claim to such an impressive roll.
  4. The Alley and the Stage
    1. Tin Pan Alley
      1. This name refers to the popular music written between the 1890s and the 1950s before rock and roll came into its own. Originally it referred to a building on 28th Street, where music publishers had their offices and songwriters tried to sell their songs, which were often composed to order or to meet public demand for a certain kind of song.
      2. The songs written starting in the mid-1920s were vital to the development of jazz. The songwriters were influenced by jazz rhythms and the blues while jazz musicians found inspiration in the songwriters' melodies and harmonies. Usually songs were written by teams, but there were important exceptions like Irving Berlin and Cole Porter.
    2. Blacks and the Great White Way
      1. Whites, especially Jews, dominated Broadway. Although segregation was a fact of life for black artists like Duke Ellington, W. C. Handy, Fats Waller, and lyricist Andy Razaf, these black songwriters turned out some of the best-known classics in the American songbook.
  5. The Harlem Renaissance
    1. Starting in 1904, blacks started moving into Harlem, and by 1920 Harlem was an African American "city within a city."
    2. In 1925 Alain Locke's The New Negro argued that African American artists represented a force in the arts. Attitudes toward jazz by the leaders of this renaissance were ambivalent, and often preferred to leave behind some of its more coarse stereotypes.
  6. Stride
    1. Stride piano was a more virtuosic, flashier, and louder style of ragtime; it was open to any kind |of repertoire reflective of the musical vigor of New York. East Cost stride players began adding melodic and rhythmic flourishes to ragtime, which over time created a distinctive style.
    2. Just as ragtime had its composers (Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton), stride had its composers as well (James P. Johnson, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, Thelonius Monk).
    3. "Stride" refers to the action of the pianist's left hand, which plays a single low note, low tenth, or chord on beats one and three, and a higher threeor four-note chord on beats 2 and 4. They embellished this basic pattern in both the left and right hand, often using Romantic pianistic techniques in the right hand.
    4. Stride pianists often made a living playing at Harlem "rent parties," which consisted of friends and neighbors congregating with food, music, and money to help pay the ever-increasing Harlem rents. Small apartments had room for only a piano, which had to be loud and steady for dancers. Stride pianists often competed for these jobs in terms of piano technique and individual style.
  7. James P. Johnson (1894-1955)
    1. Known as the "Father of Stride Piano," he perfected the East Coast style. Every major jazz pianist from the 1920s onward (Fats Waller, Art Tatum, Duke Ellington, Earl Hines, Count Basie, Teddy Wilson) was influenced by him.
    2. Born in New Jersey, he was influenced by ringshout dances (religious songs with dance) and brass bands. He studied classical piano, and when the family moved to New York in 1908, he encountered pianists such as Eubie Blake and Lucky Roberts.
    3. Johnson and others found jobs playing in Jungle's Casino (Hell's Kitchen), where black workers from the Carolinas danced to piano music. Johnson wrote "Carolina Shout," which became the test piece for many up-and-coming pianists.
    4. Beginning in 1918 he made a series of influential piano rolls. Ragtime was spread through sheet music, but stride was spread through piano rolls.
    5. In 1921, Johnson made a series of important recordings. By 1940, he had composed "De-Organizer" with Langston Hughes as collaborator. In 1951 a stroke incapacitated him.
    6. Erroll Garner and Thelonious Monk extended his style.
  8. The Player Piano
    1. It could be played like a regular piano and could also play piano rolls, paper perforated in such a way that it could trigger the keyboard.
    2. Celebrated musicians often made these rolls, and they could be bought like recordings. Pianists would learn Johnson's pieces by slowing down the roll and placing their fingers on the displaced keys.
  9. "You've Got to Be Modernistic"
    1. Modernisms: the introduction and first two strains use advanced harmonies (diminished and wholetone scales); the piece switches in the middle from formal ragtime to the theme and variations of jazz.
    2. There are three 16-bar strains, each of which is distinctive, and then seven choruses of variations. This structure reflects the transition from ragtime to stride and from composition to variations.
  10. Duke Ellington Begins (1899-1974)
    1. Pianist, arranger, songwriter, bandleader, and producer, Ellington was the most important composer in jazz. He played a vital role in jazz throughout his life and is still widely performed. He wrote a vast variety of music for various media including film as well as television and made thousands of recordings.
    2. From his earliest days as a professional musician, he made four contributions, three musical and one cultural:
      1. He demonstrated that the potential of big-band jazz could transcend Whiteman's conception and Henderson's achievements.
      2. He solidified the influence of stride piano as a pianist and an arranger.
      3. He proved that innovative jazz writing could be applied to popular song.
      4. He violated the assumptions about jazz as a low and unlettered music by refusing to accept racial limitations.
    3. He was born in Washington, D.C., to a middle-class family and wrote his first composition, "Soda Fountain Rag," when he was fourteen based on stride piano.
      1. He started his own five-piece band in Washington and then tried his luck in New York in 1923 where he secured a gig (or engagement) at the Kentucky Club. There he enlarged the band and included Bubber Miley, a trumpet "growler" from South Carolina.
      2. By the end of 1926, Ellington started to develop his own sound, in which he ignored Redman's reed-brass contrasts in favor of new instrumental voicings to create a new sound.
  11. The Cotton Club
    1. On December 4, 1927, the Ellington band opened at the Cotton Club. A high-end, segregated nightclub in Harlem, it relied on minstrel clich├ęs for its ambience, exploiting stereotypes about the South and African American sexuality. Ellington learned a great deal here by working with show business professionals.
    2. Because of his residency at the Cotton Club, Ellington became well known in New York, and because of the national radio broadcasts from the club, he became nationally known.
    3. He did not borrow from jazz for his own pieces; rather, he was a jazz composer whose musical subjects were found in racial pride and a more realistic sexuality. As the band grew in size to fifteen, he hired musicians who stayed with him for many years.
  12. "Black and Tan Fantasy"
    1. Much of Ellington's music is programmatic, including this piece. "Black and tan" clubs invited both blacks and whites as patrons. Some saw these small clubs as a bastion of liberal racial politics, but Ellington was not convinced.
    2. In this piece, Miley's 12-bar blues (black) is juxtaposed with Ellington's parody of a 16-bar ragtime (tan) section. They merge in an evocation of Chopin's "Funeral March," putting an end to the illusion of "black and tan" clubs as some kind of viable response to segregation.
  13. Comparing Morton's "Dead Man Blues" and Ellington's "Black and Tan Fantasy" illustrates the changes that had occurred during the 1920s. Morton's music looks to the past; Ellington is very much in the present and points the way to the future. There is little deference to the southern roots of jazz. Ellington's generation seemed to signal a new start in jazz-a motive in the art form's development, as each subsequent generation regularly sought to remake the idiom in its own image.

Chapter 5 Jukebox