This chapter introduces two of the most influential bandleaders.
Count Basie and Duke Ellington tower above their
contemporaries. After his stint at the Cotton Club, Ellington
toured the nation playing concerts, dances, and theaters. He
became an important American composer even though his
popularity waned. Ellington's career post-1927 receives full
attention including his achievements as a jazz composer, as
well as his complicated relationship with the musicians most
associated with him (Johnny Hodges, Cootie Williams) and
his co-composer, Billy Strayhorn. New styles from Kansas
City and the "old Southwest," including the blues piano style
known as boogie-woogie, are also addressed. A number of
bands come from this part of the country, including the Andy
Kirk band (with Mary Lou Williams) and "territory bands"
like the Blue Devils. Still, discussion of "Kansas City swing"
boils down to Count Basie and his orchestra, the best known
and most influential exemplar of the style. Basie came out of
the American Southwest, where blues and a four-beat relaxed
drive reinvigorated swing. This chapter also demonstrates the
ways in which Kansas City jazz is affected by the informal
jam session and the head arrangement.