Swing Music Forum | Big Bands | 1930s & 40s Small Groups | Jazz Vocalists | Mainstream Jazz | Modern Swing | Swing Era Photos | Jazz Joint Radio | Playlists
Also on Swing Music Net
•  1956 Fender Stratocaster
•  Bogen DB 130 Pre-amp
•  George Gott Tube EQ
•  SAE Record De-clicker
•  RCA 74 Jr Velocity Mic
•  Scott 299A Tube Pre-amp
The Big Band Era And The Rise
In Popularity Of Big Band Music

The Close Of The Big Band Era

Several factors caused the Big Band era to come to an early close. Among them, the 1942 American Federation Of Musicians strike and the 1941 ASCAP / BMI War. Read an article published in Down beat magazine the month the infamous " Petrillo recording ban" began.

•  See the entire 1942 article

The Duke Ellington Orchestra circa 1934
The History Of Jazz Music - Pre Swing Era
Jazz Radio Audio
The live feed of our Tuesday jazz music radio show streaming online at 4:00 PM Pacific with a focus on the history of jazz music and jazz music that swings from the 1930s to today.

Jazz Musician Biographies
The entire list of Swing Music.net Jazz musician biographies. These referenced jazz musician biographies trace the careers of some of the greatest in jazz history.

History Of Jazz Part 1
Early hot jazz bands, the hotel dance bands and the history of jazz music leading up to the Big Band era.

History Of Jazz Part II
The role of economics, early recording technology, and radio relative to the history of jazz and the Big Band era.

The Recording Ban Of 1942
Scans of a 1942 Down Beat magazine article detailing one of the most devastating events of the Big Band era; the James Petrillo / AFM recording ban.

Webb Cuts Basie At The Savoy
Another of the many jazz magazine articles on the site detailing the history of jazz music. This piece recounts the Count Basie vs. Chick Webb big band music Battle Of Swing held at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom in January of 1938.

On this page of our journey into the history of jazz music we focus on pre Big Band era jazz music history as recorded before 1935. We use this date and classification of this period of jazz for timeline measuring-stick purposes only. Although most historians regard the year 1935 as the start of the Big Band era, it is still a debatable topic as big band jazz had indeed been recorded as early as the 1920s.

In 1917 the Original Dixieland Jass Band cut the first recorded jazz records in history. It is a pity the honor could not have been bestowed upon a true pioneer of the genre. Most jazz historians regard this small group as simply a poor copycat band, lucky to ever have been recorded. Nevertheless, their recordings sold over a million copies and enabled jazz to be heard all over the country.

Jazz began its development in New Orleans where King Oliver, a cornet player that Louis Armstrong idolized, was performing in the early 1900's. Steamboats using the Mississippi further helped spread the sound of jazz as many of the New Orleans jazz bands and musicians performed as entertainment on the boats.

In the 1920s the music of jazz began to migrate to a big band format combining elements of ragtime, black spirituals, blues, and European music. Duke Ellington, Ben Pollack, Don Redman, and Fletcher Henderson sported some of the more popular early big bands playing hot music. These bands contained burgeoning jazz stars and future big bandleaders like Coleman Hawkins, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Red Allen, Roy Eldridge, Benny Carter, and John Kirby.

While the aforementioned musicians were playing big band jazz; the popularity of the hotel dance bands of the 1920s was also an important factor in the evolution of the Big Band era. Paul Whiteman, The California Ramblers, Ted Lewis, Jean Goldkette, and Vincent Lopez were a few of the successful hotel dance bandleaders of the 1920s. Their main sources of revenue came from playing for ballroom dance crowds and doing radio remote broadcasts in the 1920s and early 1930s.

The hot jazz orchestras of the day soon found the necessity of using an "arranger" for their pieces of music. His job became an all-important function in the making of big band jazz. While small group jazz had previously allowed a group of musicians to basically just "blow," structure became necessary with large gatherings of musicians. Although improvisation in solos was still allowed, the arranger took a written piece of music and assigned various parts to the different sections in a band and also dictated when solos were to be taken. The big band sounds of The Dorsey Brothers, Fletcher Henderson, Cab Calloway, The Casa Loma Orchestra, and Duke Ellington's orchestra as well as the styling in jazz vocals of The Mills Brothers and The Boswell Sisters were all moving toward an "arranged" and easy flowing style of jazz which would become known as swing.

With this new structure and sound the stage was set for the rise in popularity of big band music, played in this new swing style, that took the country by storm in the mid 1930s. The popularity of the music increased as Americans invented exciting, new, dances to be done in rhythm with the music. The Savoy Ballroom in Harlem opened its doors in 1926 and later became a hotbed for swing bands during the Big Band era. It was here that a swing dance style called the Lindy Hop was named, refined, and popularized. Through the press, through recordings, and through live radio remote broadcasts the masses were about to hear about this new swing music and dance craze.

On the next page of this two-part article on early jazz we explore other factors that helped in the spread, rise, and popularity of big band jazz and the birth of the Big Band era.

Anita O'Day Biography
Not your typical big band "canary" Anita's voice was heard soaring over the brassy bands of Gene Krupa and Stan Kenton during the Swing era. She later released a number of fine swinging albums for Norman Granz on his Clef, Norgran and Verve record labels. She died 11-23-06 at 87.

Ray Charles Biography
Known as "The Genius" Ray Charles recorded a wide variety of music but got his start playing big band music and jazz. He passed away 6-10-04.

Barney Kessel Biography
The jazz guitar great died May 6th, 2004 and left behind a vast body of recorded jazz work.

Benny Carter Biography
Benny Carter was one of the greatest arrangers and jazz musicians the genre has ever known. This extensive biography spans the entire lengthy career of the jazz legend.

Billy May Biography
The trumpeter, bandleader, composer and arranger died Jan. 22, 2004. May wrote many Swing era classics for Glenn Miller and Charlie Barnet and later for Sinatra and Nat Cole.

Count Basie Biography
Our biography of Count Basie traces the career of "the kid from Red Bank" through Kansas City and into the later stages of his life as a bandleader.

For more early jazz and big band music history jump to:
The History Of Jazz Part II - The Big Band Era;
The Rise In Popularity Of Big Band Music

which covers Great Depression technology, social and economic conditions.
All material by Jeff Parker unless otherwise indicated. All writings adapted from the bibliography list below except where Down Beat and/or Metronome magazines are recognized. We encourage you to visit your local library or bookstore for a wealth of information on jazz history.
Rust, Brian. The Dance Bands. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House 1972
Dale, Rodney. The World Of Jazz. Edison, NJ: Chartwell Books 1996
Fordham, John. JAZZ. New York, NY: Dorling Kindersley 1993
Schuller, Gunther. The Swing Era. NY, NY: Oxford University Press 1989
Simon, George T., The Big Bands. New York, NY: Schirmer Books 1981
Feather, Leonard, The Encyclopedia Of Jazz. NY, NY: Horizon Press 1960
A rare Paul Whiteman picture disc
Web www.swingmusic.net
www.allmusic.com www.downbeat.com

Big Band-leaders And Down Beat Articles | Jazz Music Web Forum | Swing Era Small Groups | Swing Era Photos | Mainstream Jazz Musicians | Jazz Vocalists
Jazz Radio Audio | Jazz History And Big Band Music Evolution | Jazz History Economics And Technology | Big Band Battle At The Savoy | Petrillo / AFM Recording Ban

About Our Jazz Radio Program | Contact Via E-mail | Direct Postal Mail: 1175 Shaw Ave. Suite 104 PMB #198 Clovis, CA 93612
© 2004 - 2013 Swingmusic.net

Big Bands | 1930s & 40s Combos | Jazz Vocalists | Mainstream Jazz | Modern Swing And Jazz | Swing Era Photos | Jazz Joint Jump Radio | Jazz Radio Playlists
© 2004 - 2013 CD Swing / Swingmusic.net All rights reserved