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Swing Bands

This chapter addresses the growth of jazz-oriented large dance orchestras, exploring the social and economic context for the period of the national dance craze known as the Swing Era. We examine the changes in the music business caused by the Depression, and discuss the musical elements that went into the new swing style. We look at the economic and psychological “shift” that resulted in mass white enthusiasm for black dance band music. Special attention is given to Benny Goodman, who exemplified these changes and brought jazz into the popular mainstream and into a closer relationship with art music—as well as Fletcher Henderson, the source for Goodman’s style. We also meet other swing bands, such as those led by Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Jimmie Lunceford, Cab Calloway, and Chick Webb.

  • Fletcher Henderson, Blue Lou
  • Benny Goodman, Dinah
  • Artie Shaw, Star Dust
  • Jimmie Lunceford, T’aint What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It)

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