Chapter Study Outline

  1. Jammin' the Blues
    1. Soloists' styles were as well known as band styles during this period, with individual players often having a short space in an arrangement to take a solo.
    2. Famous soloists often switched bands but shone only as brightly as the leader allowed.
    3. The lack of soloing time led many players to participate in jam sessions. As many players left big bands for the armed forces during the 1940s, others played public jam sessions or joined small groups, especially groups started by successful orchestra leaders. These settings allowed for more playing time.
    4. The increasing popularity of soloists garnered new respect for jazz musicians, provided diverse playing opportunities, and helped spur the rapid development of musical technique.
    5. In 1944, as swing slowed up, Norman Granz produced a ten-minute film, Jammin'the Blues, featuring well-known soloists of the day and capturing the informal environment of the jam session.
  2. Coleman Hawkins
    1. He was the prime exemplar of the rise of the independent Swing Era soloist.
    2. The first jazz focused on the soprano sax (Bechet) or the C-melody sax (Trumbauer). These instruments eventually fell into disuse as Hawkins distanced the tenor from its comic associations and established it as a rival to the trumpet in jazz.
    3. Known as "Bean" or "Hawk," Hawkins established the approved style of saxophone playing while with the Henderson band (1923-1934): heavy vibrato, powerful timbre, emotional zeal, and harmonic ingenuity. He changed improvisation from varying the melody to creating lines based on arpeggiated harmonies.
    4. In exploring various ways to break down chords, he frequently added more intricate harmonies and harmonic substitutions, thereby prefiguring bebop.
    5. In 1934 Hawkins signed with British bandleader Jack Hylton to tour England. He was so impressed by the reception of jazz in Europe that he stayed for five years, touring all over Europe while staying in touch with developments in the United States through recordings. One of these developments was the emergence of Lester Young.
    6. Weeks before Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, Hawkins returned to the States and started recording again with some of the musicians he had influenced-Ben Webster and Chu Berry.
    7. "Body and Soul"
      1. A month after he returned from Europe, Hawkins went into the studio to record with the nine-piece band then playing at Kelly's Stables. They recorded three arranged pieces and needed a fourth to complete four recorded sides. They played an ad-lib "Body and Soul," which became a hit.
      2. Originally written for a Broadway review in 1930, it had since become a standard for torch singers and jazz musicians such as Armstrong, Goodman, Django Reinhardt, and Chu Berry. Hawkins's recordings acted as a challenge to other saxophonists.
      3. Hawkins started with the melody, but after two measures he headed into new territory. Hawkins described the climactic passages as a kind of sexual release.
      4. It was at the top of pop charts for six weeks in 1940. Audiences clamored for his solo. He later played it as if it were composed. Lyrics were eventually put to it and Benny Carter arranged it for big band. In 1948 Hawkins used the same harmonies for a piece called "Picasso" for unaccompanied saxophone, the first of its kind. The solo has remained a staple of saxophone literature ever since.
  3. The Hawkins School
    1. Hawkins's influence was similar to Armstrong's: players of other kinds of sax switched to tenor. (His solo on "The Stampede" was especially influential.) Except for an indigenous tenor saxophone style emerging from the American Southwest (embodied in Lester Young), Hawk's primacy was almost absolute.
    2. Ben Webster (1909-1973)
      1. Born in Kansas City, his mentors included Budd Johnson and Lester Young. He arrived in New York in 1932 with Benny Moten's band and then worked with several key bandleaders before joining Duke Ellington's band.
      2. Originally a tempestuous soloist, he was known in his later career as a distinctive ballad player and accompanist for singers.
      3. Along with Young and Hawkins, he was one of the three pillars of prewar saxophonists. His playing during the 1950s and 1960s became even more distinctive than the foregoing innovations of his earlier period.
    3. Chu Berry (1908-1941)
      1. Born in West Virginia and educated at the university there. He started on alto sax and switched to tenor in 1929.
      2. In 1930 he went to New York and played in a number of bands, finally taking Hawkins's place in Henderson's band after he left for Europe in 1935-1937.
      3. He impressed a young Charlie Parker with his ability to stay relaxed at fast tempos. In 1937 he joined Cab Calloway's band, where he achieved his greatest success.
    4. Roy Eldridge (1911-1989)
      1. He inherited the mantle of Armstrong and set the stage for Dizzy Gillespie.
      2. He could play Hawkins's tenor solo from "The Stampede" on trumpet and developed his distinctive style by copying tenor saxophone solos.
      3. He moved to New York in 1930 after working in the Midwest.
      4. He joined Henderson in 1935. In 1936 he formed his own eight-piece band.
      5. He was a brassy, high-note player.
      6. In the 1940s he became the first black musician to sit in a white orchestra, in this case, led by Gene Krupa. He accompanied singers, played with Artie Shaw, and participated in the "Birth of Bebop" jam sessions. He played with both swing and bop musicians.
  4. Lester Young (1909-1959) and the Lestorian Mode
    1. Young's style was radically different from Hawkins's. Young produced a light, vibrato-less tenor sound by trying to reproduce Frankie Trumbauer.
    2. He grew up in New Orleans and played many instruments in the traveling Young Family Band. In 1927 he left to work with King Oliver, Benny Moten, and the Blue Devils. In 1933 he settled in Kansas City. In December of that year, there was a legendary battle of the tenor saxophones between Hawkins, Young, and Webster, which Young won.
    3. After Hawkins left for New York, Henderson asked Young to join the band. However, he didn't last because his sound was so radically different. He worked his way back to Kansas City and rejoined Count Basie, whose blues-based, improvisationcentered band proved a better fit than the heavily arranged Henderson band.
    4. Young's playing exhibited a new freedom in jazz. Some of his melodic phrases used notes of the chord, and some did not. He did not detail every harmony. He was more liberal with dissonance and often repeated a succession of single pitches to play with intonation, often flattening each slightly. He was also more liberal with rhythm. He would sometimes disregard the beat, creating a counterrhythm.
    5. He traveled with Basie to New York and Chicago in 1936. Although accepted this time, he remained an outsider. Diffident, shy, and unconventional, he introduced "cool" into jazz. He wielded an idiosyncratic personal style. He wore a porkpie hat and narrow, knit ties, held the saxophone to the side at an angle when he played, and spoke a colorful slang of his own invention.
    6. White musicians copied his lyricism and timbre; black musicians, his blues riffs and darker timbre in the middle and low registers.
    7. "Oh Lady Be Good"
      1. One of his best solos: slurred notes, polyrhythm, staccato single notes, pitch variation, and swing. The song was written by the Gershwins for a 1924 Broadway musical.
      2. Basie plays the melody.
      3. The pseudonym, Jones-Smith Incorporated, was provided by John Hammond because Basie was already signed to Decca.
    8. After he was drafted into the war in 1944, his life changed irrevocably. Upon admitting to smoking marijuana, he was sentenced to a year of hard labor in Georgia. On returning to civilian life nine months later, he was never quite the same. He started drinking heavily and his playing suffered.
  5. Over There
    1. Jazz was carried all over the world through recordings.
    2. Two factors stimulated its growth overseas:
      1. Europeans recognized it as a serious art form. There was racism, but not supported by the law of the land as in the United States.
      2. In some places, like Nazi Germany and Russia, jazz was illegal. It was associated with rebellion and freedom and appreciated underground.
    3. Nazis banned jazz as the decadent product of blacks and Jews, but as they conquered other countries, they realized that the captured population listened to local radio that played jazz more than German broadcasts. They then decided to exploit this by providing imitations of swing.
    4. After the war, American jazz musicians were treated as heroes. Jazz mutually interacted with local musical practices when it arrived in many parts of the world, generating new musical mixes. American jazz musicians remained stars, but internationally, many local musicians also achieved fame.
  6. Django Reinhardt (1910-1953)
    1. The only European to be considered one of jazz's prime movers, Reinhardt grew up in a Gypsy settlement near Paris. He learned violin and banjo from relatives and then learned guitar. He started playing professionally at age twelve.
    2. In 1928, just before he turned nineteen, his left hand was burned in a caravan fire, which left his fourth and fifth fingers paralyzed. Amazingly, he learned to play with only two fingers and his thumb. He developed a strong right-hand, percussive picking style and a rapid-fire left-hand fretting technique. He was turned on to jazz by the recordings of guitarist Eddie Lang and violinist Joe Venuti.
    3. The year that Coleman Hawkins started his fiveyear stay in Europe, 1934, was important in the history of European jazz. A few years earlier, French fans started the Hot Club de France. By 1934, Hugues Panassie published Le Jazz Hot, the first serious book on jazz in any language and the first to suggest the preeminence of African Americans in jazz. This year also saw the first publication of the magazine Jazz Hot, published by Panassie and Charles Delauney, as well as the formation of a band to represent the club: Quintettte du Hot Club de France.
    4. The Quintette grew out of jam sessions and featured two great soloists, Reinhardt and Grappelli, who was largely self-taught and inspired by Joe Venuti. The rhythm section was made up of two guitars and a bass; there were no drums or piano. They were praised both in Europe and America, confirming that white Europeans could play jazz and thus validating its universality. Delauney started recording Reinhardt with visiting American jazz musicians like Coleman Hawkins and Benny Carter.
  7. Benny Carter (1907-2003)
    1. Among musicians, Carter was considered the true King of Swing.
    2. Born in New York, he was a largely self-taught instrumentalist, composer, and arranger.
    3. By seventeen he was playing professionally, and soon he was writing for major bandleaders such as Fletcher Henderson, Charlie Johnson, and McKinney's Cotton Pickers, which he took over in 1931.
    4. He played alto saxophone, trumpet, clarinet, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, and piano. He occasionally sang. He started his own band in 1932.
    5. His importance has four components:
      1. Instrumentalist: with Johnny Hodges, he established the alto saxophone as a major jazz instrument. He also played trumpet.
      2. Composer-arranger: He composed several standards. His arranging style was streamlined, setting the standard for Basie and Henderson. As an arranger his trademark was his solid reed-section writing, which swung like an improvised solo. His most acclaimed album is the 1961 issue Further Definitions, which is associated with the avant-garde. He also arranged music for singers such as Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles.
      3. Bandleader: As a bandleader he enjoyed little commercial success because he concentrated on the music rather than courting dancers, but he was so well respected among musicians that he had his pick of players.
      4. Social activist: As an activist he continually fought racism. In 1937 he started the first integrated international orchestra. He worked his way into the Hollywood studio system, cracking the "color bar." Thus he enjoyed financial security, living in Beverly Hills and driving a Rolls Royce. He worked on both movies and television. In 1978 he was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, rejuvenating his playing career.
  8. Singers: Lady Day and the First Lady of Song
    1. Singers enjoy a special relationship to jazz.
      1. Singers model themselves on the rhythmic freedom of instrumentalists, while instrumentalists model themselves on the flexibility and expressiveness of the voice.
      2. Singers concentrate on melody, not the abstract variations typical of instrumentalists.
      3. They occupy a middle ground between jazz and commercial music. Pop singers during the 1930s and 1940s were influenced by jazz but were not jazz singers per se. They were often resented for achieving the success that jazz musicians sought but rarely achieved. Consider the masses that Armstrong reached as a singer who never knew him as a trumpeter.
    2. Singers were added to big bands because lyrics made melodies more memorable and were more likely to become a hit. The first to recruit a singer was Paul Whiteman, who hired Bing Crosby in 1926 and Mildred Bailey in 1929. By 1929 Crosby was extremely popular and created the template of the pop singer, who translates popularity into a film and broadcast career. Bailey illustrates a different template by providing a feminine touch.
      1. Many female singers doubled as eye candy and were referred to using bird synonyms: thrush, canary, sparrow, chick, or chickadee. This is in stark contrast to the female blues singers of the 1920s who projected independence and assertiveness.
      2. This next generation of female singers adopted the persona of the weaker sex in song lyrics. While earlier blues singers celebrated sex, the new generation proffered fantasies.
    3. Billie Holiday (1915-1959)
      1. Born in Philadelphia and raised in Baltimore, Holiday was the illegitimate daughter of guitarist Clarence Holiday.
      2. She was left by her mother in the care of abusive relatives. At age ten she was remanded to a school for delinquent girls. In 1929 she joined her mother in New York, where she worked at menial labor and was arrested for prostitution. She started singing at this time.
      3. By 1933, she was heard at a Harlem club by John Hammond, who invited her to record with Benny Goodman. In 1934 she wowed the audience at the Apollo Theatre. In 1935 Hammond recorded her with pianist Teddy Wilson and other top musicians, including Lester Young.
      4. She worked with the Basie and Artie Shaw big bands but had to leave the latter because of racial injunctions. In 1939 she sang at the interracial nightclub Café Society in New York. Her recordings sold well. "Strange Fruit" (1939), about lynching, raised her standing with the intelligentsia.
      5. Her downfall was long and painful due to her drug addiction, bad marriage, a sensationalized trial in 1947, an eight-month jail term, and the denial of her cabaret card. By the 1950s she was focusing on ballads as her voice weakened. She made a TV appearance in 1957 and died at age forty-four.
      6. Lady Day's Style
        1. Her main influences were Ethel Waters, Bessie Smith, and, especially, Louis Armstrong, for his sense of swing, paraphrase, and embellishment.
        2. Unlike other singers she did not scat, and she rarely sang blues form. She wielded a limited vocal range, and though she featured a thin timbre, she could make a song her own through melodic variation.
        3. Jazz musicians adored her phrasing. She had a musical romance with Lester Young.
      7. "A Sailboat in the Moonlight"
        1. Written by Carmen Lombardo and a hit for Guy Lombardo, it was banal and sentimental. Yet Holiday's rendition (with Young) is rhythmical, inspired, and touching.
    4. Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996)
      1. In contrast to Holiday, she:
        1. Was a great scat singer and enjoyed a four-octave range.
        2. Used falsetto cries and low growls.
        3. Wielded a luscious timbre.
        4. Treated the blues as just another vehicle for improvisation, though, like Holiday, rarely sang blues form.
      2. Born in Virginia and raised in Yonkers, she sang in church. After her mother died, she went to live with an aunt in Harlem, who treated her like an orphan. By 1934 she was living in the streets. Singing at the Apollo in 1934, she was teased when she walked on stage because of her looks but won the competition all the same.
      3. Benny Carter recommended her to Chick Webb. He became her legal guardian and restructured his band to feature her voice. She recorded from 1935 on and had a big hit in 1938 with "A-Tisket, A-Tasket."
      4. After Webb's death, she recorded with other musicians and was recruited by Norman Granz for his Jazz at the Philharmonic program. He became her personal manager, building the Verve Record label around her. During the 1950s and 1960s, she made the highly acclaimed songbook series of recordings.
      5. "Blue Skies"
        1. Originally for the Irving Berlin songbook album, the song was judged too adventurous but was released on a later album, Get Happy! Harry "Sweets" Edison provides an obbligato. She sings a three-chorus scat solo quoting Gershwin and the Wedding March.
  9. Pianists, guitarists, drummers, and bass players also developed technical skills to keep up with the advances made by horn players, so that eventually every player in a band could be featured as a soloist. The nature of the rhythm section thus began to change- the topic of the next chapter.

Chapter 9 Jukebox