The JAZZ Story
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The JAZZ Story The JAZZ Story

                               The JAZZ Story

                            An Outline History of Jazz

     In the span of less than a  century,  the  remarkable  native  American
     called Jazz  has  risen  from  obscure  folk  origins  to  become  this
     most significant original art form, loved and played  in  nearly  every
land on
     Today, Jazz flourishes in many styles, from basic blues and ragtime
     through New Orleans and Dixieland, swing and mainstream, bebop and
     modern to free form and electronic. What is extraordinary is  not  that
     has taken so many forms, but that each form has been vital enough to
     survive and to retain its own character and special  appeal.  It  takes
     open ears and an open mind to appreciate all the many and wide-raging
     delights jazz has to offer.


      Jazz  developed  from  folk  sources.  Its  origins  are  shrouded  in
obscurity, but
     the slaves brought here from Africa,  torn  from  their  own  ancestral
     developed it as a new form of communication in song and story.
     Black music in America retained  much  of  Africa  in  its  distinctive
     elements and also in its tradition of  collective  improvisation.  This
     blended with the music of the new land, much of it vocal, produced
     than just a new sound. It generated an entire new mode of musical
     The most famous form of early Afro-American music is the spiritual.
     These beautiful and moving religious songs were most often heard by
     white audiences in more genteel versions than those performed in rural
     black churches. What is known as gospel music today, more accurately
     reflects the emotional power and rhythmic drive of early Afro-American
     music than a recording of a spiritual by the famous Fisk Jubilee
     from the first decade of this century.
     Other early musical forms dating from the slavery years include work
     songs, children's songs, and dances, adding up to a remarkable legacy,
     especially since musical activity was considerable restricted under


     After the slaves were freed, Afro-American music grew rapidly. The
     availability of musical instruments, including military band discards,
     the new-found mobility gave birth to the basic roots of Jazz: brass
     dance band music and the blues.
     The blues, a seemingly simple form of music that nevertheless lends
     to almost infinite variation, has been a significant part of every
Jazz style,
     and has also survived in its own right. Today's rock and soul music
     be impossible without the blues. Simply explained, it is and eight (or
     twelve) bar strain with lyrics in which the first stanza is repeated.
It gets its
     characteristic "blue" quality from a flattening of the third and
seventh notes
     of the tempered scale. In effect, the blues is the secular counterpart
of the


     By the late 1880's, there were black brass, dance and concert bands in
     most southern cities. (At the same time, black music in the north was
     generally more European-oriented.) Around this era, ragtime began to
     emerge. Though primarily piano music, bands also began to pick it up
     perform it. Ragtime's golden age was roughly from 1898 to 1908, but
     total span began earlier and lingered much later. Recently, it has
     rediscovered. A music of great melodic charm, its rhythms are heavily
     syncopated, but it has almost no blues elements. Ragtime and early
     are closely related, but ragtime certainly was more sedate.
     Greatest of the ragtime composers was Scott Joplin (1868-1917). Other
     masters of the form include James Scott, Louis Chauvink Eubie Blake
     (1883-1983) and Joseph Lamb, a white man who absorbed the idiom


     Ragtime, especially in its watered-down popular versions, was
     entertainment designed for the middle class and was frowned on by the
     musical establishment. The music not yet called Jazz (in its earliest
usage it
     was spelled "jass"), came into being during the last decade of the
     century, rising out of the black working-class districts of southern
     Like ragtime, it was a music meant for dancing.
     The city that has become synonymous with early Jazz is New Orleans.
     There is reality as well as myth behind this notion.

     New Orleans: Cradle of Jazz

     New Orleans played a key role in the birth and growth of Jazz, and the
     music's early history has been more thoroughly researched and
     documented there than anywhere else. But, while the city may have had
     more and better Jazz than any other from about 1895 to 1917, New
     Orleans was by no means the only place where the sounds were
     incubating. Every southern city with a sizable black population had
     that must be considered early Jazz. It came out of St. Louis, which
grew to
     be the center of ragtime; Memphis, which was the birthplace of W.C.
     Handy (1873-1958), the famed composer and collector of blues; Atlanta,
     Baltimore, and other such cities.
     What was unique to New Orleans at the time was a very open and free
     social atmosphere. People of different ethnic and racial backgrounds
     establish contact, and out of this easy communication came a rich
     tradition involving French, Spanish, German, Irish and African
elements. It
     was no wonder that this cosmopolitan and lively city was a fertile
     ground for Jazz.
     If New Orleans was the birthplace of Jazz in truth as well as in
legend, the
     tale that the music was born in its red light district is purest
nonsense. New
     Orleans did have legalized prostitution and featured some of the most
     elaborate and elegant "sporting houses" in the nation. But the music,
if any,
     that was heard in these establishments was made by solo pianists.
     Actually, Jazz was first heard in quite different settings. New
Orleans was
     noted for its many social and fraternal organizations, most of which
     sponsored or hired bands for a variety of occasions -- indoor and
     dances, picnics, store openings, birthday or anniversary parties. And,
     course, Jazz was the feature of the famous funeral parades, which
     even today. Traditionally, a band assembles in front of the church and
     leads a slow procession to the cemetery, playing solemn marches and
     mournful hymns. On the way back to town, the pace quickens and fast,
     peppy marches and rags replace the dirges. These parades, always great
     crowd attractions, were important to the growth of Jazz. It was here
     trumpeters and clarinetists would display their inventiveness and the
     drummers work out the rhythmic patterns that became the foundation for
     "swinging" the beat.

  The best way to account for the early development of jazz in New  Orleans
  is to familiarize yourself with the cultural and social history  of  this
  marvelously distinctive regional culture.
  One might say that jazz is the Americanization of the New  Orleans  music
  developed by the  Creoles,  occuring  at  a  time  when  ragtime,  blues,
  spirituals, marches, and popular "tin pan alley" music  were  converging.
  Jazz was a style of  playing  which  drew  from  all  of  the  above  and
  presented an idiommatic model based on a concept  of  collective,  rather
  than solo, improvisation.
  Ultimately, New Orleans players  such  as  Louis  Armstrong  and   Sidney
  Bechet developed a new approach which emphasized  solos,  but  they  both
  began their careers working in the  collective  format,  evident  in  the
  early recordings by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band  (1917),  Kid  Ory's
  Sunshine Orchestra (1921), the New Orleans Rhythm Kings (1922, 1923)  and
  King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band (1923).
  Armstrong's impact became apparent with the popularity of  his  Hot  Five
  and Hot Seven recordings (1925-28),  redirecting  everyone's  imagination
  toward inspired solos. Meanwhile, in New Orleans,  community  connections
  such as "jazz funerals" in which brass bands performed at  funerals  held
  by benevolent
  associations continued to underline  the  role  of  jazz  as  a  part  of
  everyday life.
   Jazz may have been a luxury (entertainment) in New  York,  Chicago,  and
  Los Angeles, but in New Orleans it  was a necessity--a part of the fabric
  of life in the neighborhoods. And it still is.

     THE EARLY MUSICIANS - Buddy, Bunk, Freddie and The King

     The players in these early bands were mostly artisans (carpenters,
     bricklayers, tailors, etc.) or laborers who took time out on weekends
     holidays to make music along with a little extra cash.
     The first famous New Orleans musician, and the archetypal jazzman, was
     Buddy Bolden (1877-1931). A barber by trade, he played cornet and
     to lead a band in the late 1890's. Quite probably, he was the first to
     the basic, rough blues with more conventional band music. It was a
     significant step in the evolution of Jazz.
     Bolden suffered a seizure during a 1907 Mardi Gras parade and spent
     rest of his life in an institution for the incurably insane. Rumor
that he
     made records have never been substantiated, and his music comes from
     the recollection of other musicians who heard him when they were
     Bunk Johnson (1989- 1949), who played second cornet in one of Bolden's
     last bands, contributed greatly to the revival of interest in classic
     Orleans jazz that took place during the last decade of his life. A
     storyteller and colorful personality, Johnson is responsible for much
of the
     New Orleans legend. But much of what he had to say was more fantasy
     than fact.
     Many people, including serious fans, believe that the early jazz
     were self-taught geniuses who didn't read music and never took a
     lesson. A romantic notion, but entirely untrue. Almost every major
     in early jazz had at least a solid grasp of legitimate musical
     and often much more.
     Still, they developed wholly original approaches to their instruments.
     prime example is Joseph (King) Oliver (1885-1938), a cornetist and
     bandleader who used all sorts of found objects, including drinking
     a sand pail, and a rubber bathroom plunger to coax a variety of sounds
     from his horn. Freddie Keppard (1889-1933), Oliver's chief rival,
     use mutes, perhaps because he took pride in being the loudest cornet
     town. Keppard, the first New Orleans great to take the music to the
rest of
     the country, played in New York vaudeville with the Original Creole
     Orchestra in 1915.


     By the early years of the second decade, the instrumentation of the
     Jazz band had become cornet (or trumpet), trombone, clarinet, guitar,
     string bass and drums. (Piano rarely made it since most jobs were on
     location and pianos were hard to transport.) The banjo and tuba, so
     identified now with early Jazz, actually came in a few years later
     early recording techniques couldn't pick up the softer guitar and
string bass
     The cornet played the lead, the trombone filled out the bass harmony
     in a sliding style, and the clarinet embellished between these two
     poles. The first real jazz improvisers were the clarinetists, among
     Sidney Bechet (1897-1959). An accomplished musician before he was 10,
     Bechet moved from clarinet to playing mainly soprano saxophone. He was
     to become one of the most famous early jazzmen abroad, visiting
     and France in 1919 and Moscow in 1927.
     Most veteran jazz musicians state that their music had no specific
name at
     first, other than ragtime or syncopated sounds. The first band to use
     term Jazz was that of trombonist Tom Brown, a white New Orleanian who
     introduced it in Chicago in 1915. The origin of the word is cloudy and
     initial meaning has been the subject of much debate.
     The band that made the word stick was also white and also from New
     Orleans, the Original Dixieland Jass Band. This group had a huge
     success in New York in 1917-18 and was the first more or less
     Jazz band to make records. Most of its members were graduates of the
     bands of Papa Jack Laine (1873-1966), a drummer who organized his
     first band in 1888 and is thought to have been the first white Jazz
     musician. In any case, there was much musical integration in New
     and a number of light skinned Afro-Americans "passed" in white bands.
     By 1917, many key Jazz players, white and black, had left New Orleans
     and other southern cities to come north. The reason was not the
     1917 closing of the New Orleans red light district, but simple
     The great war in Europe had created an industrial boom, and the
     merely followed in the wake of millions of workers moving north to the
     promise of better jobs.


     King Oliver moved to Chicago in 1918. As his replacement in the best
     band in his hometown, he recommended an 18-year-old, Louis Armstrong.
     Little Louis, as his elders called him, had been born on August 4,
1901, in
     poverty that was extreme even for New Orleans' black population. His
     earliest musical activity was singing in the streets for pennies with
a boy's
     quartet he had organized. Later he sold coal and worked on the levee.
     Louis received his first musical instruction at reform school, where
     spent eighteen months for shooting off an old pistol loaded with
blanks on
     the street on New Year's Eve of 1913. He came out with enough musical
     savvy to take jobs with various bands in town. The first established
     musician to sense the youngster's great talent was King Oliver, who
     Louis and became his idol.


     When Oliver sent for Louis to join him in Chicago, that city had
     the world's new Jazz center. Even though New York was where the
     Original Dixieland Jass Band had scored its big success, followed by
     spawning of the first dance craze associated with the music, the New
     bands seemed to take on the vaudeville aspects of the ODJB's style
     without grasping the real nature of the music. Theirs was an imitation
     Dixieland (of which Ted Lewis was the first and most successful
     practitioner), but there were few southern musicians in New York to
     the music a New Orleans authenticity.
     Chicago, on the other hand, was teeming with New Orleans musicmakers,
     and the city's nightlife was booming in the wake of prohibition. By
     odds, the best band in town was Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, especially
     after Louis joined in late 1922. The band represented the final great
     flowering of classic New Orleans ensemble style and was also the
     harbinger of something new. Aside from the two cornetists, its stars
     the Dodds Brothers, clarinetists Johnny (1892-1940) and drummer Baby
     (1898-1959). Baby Dodds brought a new level of rhythmic subtlety and
     drive to jazz drumming. Along with another New Orleans-bred musician,
     Zutty Singleton (1897-1975), he introduced the concept of swinging to
     Jazz drums. But the leading missionary of swinging was,
     Louis Armstrong.


     The Creole Jazz Band began to record in 1923 and while not the first
     New Orleans band to make records, it was the best. The records were
     quite widely distributed and the band's impact on musicians was great.
     Two years earlier, trombonist Kid Ory (1886-1973) and his Sunshine
     Orchestra captured the honor of being the first recorded artists in
     category. However, they recorded for an obscure California company
     which soon went out of business and their records were heard by very
     Also in 1923, the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, a white group active in
     Chicago, began to make records. This was a much more sophisticated
     group than the old Dixieland Jass Band, and on one of its recording
     it used the great New Orleans pianist-composer Ferdinand (Jelly Roll)
     Morton (1890-1941). The same year, Jelly Roll also made his own


     Morton, whose fabulous series of 1938 recordings for the Library of
     Congress are a goldmine of information about early Jazz, was a complex
     man. Vain, ambitious, and given to exaggeration, he was a pool shark,
     hustler and gambler a well as a brilliant pianist and composer. His
     talent, perhaps was for organizing and arranging. The series of
records he
     made with his Red Hot Peppers between 1926 and 1928 stands, alongside
     Oliver's as the crowning glory of the New Orleans tradition and one of
     great achievements in Jazz.


     That tradition, however, was too restricting for a creative genius
like Louis
     Armstrong. He left Oliver in late 1924, accepting an offer from New
     York's most prestigious black bandleader, Fletcher Henderson
     (1897-1952). Henderson's band played at Roseland Ballroom on
     Broadway and was the first significant big band in Jazz history.
     Evolved from the standard dance band of the era, the first big Jazz
     consisted of three trumpets, one trombone, three saxophones (doubling
     kinds of reed instruments), and rhythm section of piano, banjo, bass
     or brass) and drums. These bands played from written scores
     (arrangements or "charts"), but allowed freedom of invention for the
     featured soloists and often took liberties in departing from the
     Though it was the best of the day, Henderson's band lacked rhythmic
     smoothness and flexibility when Louis joined up. The flow and grace of
     short solos on records with the band make them stand out like diamonds
     a tin setting.
     The elements of Louis' style, already then in perfect balance,
included a
     sound that was the most musical and appealing yet heard from a
trumpet; a
     gift for melodic invention that was as logical as it was new and
     and a rhythmic poise (jazzmen called it "time") that made other
     sound stiff and clumsy in comparison.
     His impact on musicians was tremendous. Nevertheless, Henderson didn't
     feature him regularly, perhaps because he felt that the white dancers
     whom his band performed were not ready for Louis' innovations. During
     his year with the band, however, Louis caused a transformation in its
     and, eventually, in the whole big band field. Henderson's chief
     Don Redman, (1900-1964) grasped what Louis was doing and got some of
     it on paper. After working with Louis, tenor saxophonist Coleman
     Hawkins (1904-1969) developed a style for his instrument that became
     guidepost for the next decade.
     While in New York, Louis also made records with Sidney Bechet, and
     with Bessie Smith (1894-1937), the greatest of all blues singers. In
     he returned to Chicago and began to make records under his own name
     with a small group, the Hot Five. Included were his wife Lil Hardin
     Armstrong (1899-1971) on piano, Kid Ory, Johnny Dodds, and guitarist
     Johnny St. Cyr. The records, first to feature Louis extensively,
became a
     sensation among musicians, first all over the United States and later
     over the world. The dissemination of jazz, and in a very real sense
     whole development, would have been impossible without the phonograph.


     The Hot Five was strictly a recording band. For everyday work, Louis
     played in a variety of situations, including theater pit bands. He
     to grow and develop, and in 1927 switched from cornet to the more
     brilliant trumpet. He had occasionally featured his unique gravel
     singing, but only as a novelty. Its popular potential became apparent
     1929, when, back in New York, he starred in a musical show in which he
     introduced the famous Ain't Misbehavin' singing as well as playing the
     great tune written by pianist Thomas (Fats) Waller (1904-1943),
     one of the greatest instrumentalists-singers-showmen in Jazz.
     It was during his last year in Chicago while working with another
     Earl (Fatha) Hines (1903-1983), that Louis reached his first artistic
     Hines was the first real peer to work with Louis. Inspired by him, he
     in turn able to inspire. Some of the true masterpieces of Jazz, among
     West End Blues and the duet Weatherbird, resulted from the
     Armstrong-Hines union.


     Louis Armstrong dominated the musical landscape of the 20's and, in
     shaped the Jazz language of the decade to come as well. But the Jazz
     the Jazz Age was more often than not just peppy dance music made by
     young men playing their banjos and saxophones who had little
     understanding of (or interest in) what the blues and/or Louis
     were about. Still, a surprising amount of music produced by this
     dance-happy period contained genuine Jazz elements.

     PAUL WHITEMAN - King of Jazz?

     The most popular bandleader of the decade was Paul Whiteman
     (1890-1967), who ironically became known as the King of Jazz, although
     his first successful bands played no Jazz at all and his later ones
     little. These later bands, however, did play superb dance music,
     scored and performed by the best white musicians the extravagant
     Whiteman paychecks could attract. From 1926 on, Whiteman gave
     occasional solo spots to such Jazz-influenced players as cornetist Red
     Nichols, violinist Joe Venuti, guitarist Eddie Lang (1904-1933), and
     Dorsey Brothers' trombonist-trumpeter Tommy (1905-1956) and
     clarinetist-saxophonist Jimmy (1904-1957), all of whom later became
     bandleaders in their own right.
     In 1927, Whiteman took over the key personnel of Jean Goldkette's
     Jazz-oriented band, which included a young cornetist and sometime
     and composer of rare talent, Bix Beiderbecke (1903-1931). Bix's very
     lyrical, personal music and early death combined to make him the first
     (and most durable) jazz legend. His romanticized life story became the
     inspiration for a novel and a film, neither of them close to the
     Bix's closest personal and musical friend during the most creative
period of
     his life was saxophonist Frank Trumbauer (1901-1956). Fondly known as
     Bix and Tram, the team enhanced many an otherwise dull Whiteman
     record with their brilliant interplay or their individual efforts.


     Bix's bittersweet lyricism influenced many aspiring jazzmen, among
     the so-called Austin High Gang, made up of gifted Chicago youngsters
     only a few of whom ever actually attended Austin High School. Among
     them were such later sparkplugs of the Swing Era as drummers Gene
     Krupa (1909-1973) and Dave Tough (1908-1948); clarinetist Frank
     Teschemacher (1905-1932); saxophonist Bud Freeman (1906-1991);
     pianists Joe Sullivan (1906-1971) and Jess Stacy (b. 1904); and
     guitarist-entrepreneur Eddie Condon (1905-1973). Their contemporaries
     and occasional comrades-in-arms included a clarinet prodigy named
     Goodman (1905-1986); and somewhat older reedman and character, Mezz
     Mezzrow (1899-1972), whose 1946 autobiography, Really the Blues,
     remains, despite inaccuracies, one of the best Jazz books.
     Trumbauer, though not a legend like Bix, influenced perhaps as many
     musicians. Among them were two of the greatest saxophonist in Jazz
     history, Benny Carter (b.1907) and Lester (Prez) Young (1909-1959).


     A great influence on young Goodman was the New Orleans clarinetist
     Jimmie Noone (1995-1944), an exceptional technician with a beautiful
     tone. Chicago was an inspiring environment for a young musician. There
     was plenty of music and there were plenty of masters to learn from.
     Cornetist Muggsy Spanier (1906-1967) took his early cues from King
     Oliver. In New York, there was less contact between black and white
     players, though white jazzmen often made the trek to Harlem or worked
     opposite Fletcher Henderson at the Roseland. When a young Texas
     trombonist, Jack Teagarden (1905-1964), came to town in 1928, he
     startled everyone with his blues-based playing (and singing), very
close in
     concept to that of Henderson's trombone star, Jimmy Harrison
     (1900-1931). These two set the pace for all comers.
     Teagarden, alongside Benny Goodman, worked in Ben Pollack's band.
     Pollack, who'd played drums with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, was
     quite a talent spotter and always had good bands. When Henderson
     arranger Don Redman took over McKinney's Cotton Pickers in 1929 and
     made it one of the bands of the `20s, his replacement was Benny
     Carter could (and still can) write arrangements and play trumpet and
     clarinet as well as alto sax. For many years, he was primarily active
as a
     composer for films and TV; but in the late 1970's, Carter resumed his
     playing career with renewed vigor. (Editor's Note-Carter just turned
     eighty and is still playing and recording.)


     Another artist whose career spanned more than fifty years is Duke
     Ellington (1899-1974). By 1972, he was one of New York's most
     successful bandleaders, resident at Harlem's Cotton Club--a nightspot
     catering to whites only but featuring the best in black talent.
     Ellington's unique gifts as composer-arranger-pianist were coupled
     equally outstanding leadership abilities. From 1927 to 1941, with very
     exceptions and occasional additions, his personnel remained unchanged--
     record no other bandleader (except Guy Lombardo, of all people) ever
     Great musicians passed through the Ellington ranks between 1924 and
     1974. Among the standouts: great baritone saxist Harry Carney
     (1907-1974), who joined in 1927; Johnny Hodges (1906-1970), whose
     alto sax sound was one of the glories of jazz; Joe (Tricky Sam) Nanton
     (1904-1946), master of the "talking" trombone; Barney Bigard
     (1906-1980); whose pure-toned clarinet brought a touch of New Orleans
     to the band; Ben Webster (1909-1973), one of Coleman Hawkins' greatest
     disciples; drummer Sonny Greer (1903-1982), and Rex Stewart
     (1907-1967) and Cootie Williams (1910-1985), an incomparable trumpet
     team. Among the later stars were trumpeter Clark Terry (b. 1920) and
     tenor saxist Paul Gonsalves (1920-1974).
     Ellington's music constitutes a world within the world of Jazz. One of
     century's outstanding composers, he wrote over 1,000 short pieces,
     many suites, music for films, the theater and television, religious
works and
     more. He must be ranked one of the century's foremost musicians,
     regardless of labels. His uninterrupted activity as a bandleader since
     has earned him a high place in each successive decade, and his
     achievement is a history of Jazz in itself.
     Three outstanding contributors to Ellingtonia must be mentioned. They
     trumpeter-composer Bubber Miley (1903-1932), the co-creator of the
     significant style for the band and, like his exact contemporary Bix
     Beiderbecke, a victim of too much, too soon; bassist Jimmy Blanton
     (1918-1942), who in his two years with Ellington shaped a whole new
     for his instrument in Jazz, both as a solo and ensemble voice; and
     Strayhorn (1915-1967), composer-arranger and Ellington alter ego who
     contributed much to the band from 1939 until his death.


     Aside from the band, for which he wrote with such splendid skill,
     Ellington's instrument was the piano. When he came to New York as a
     young man, his idols were James P. Johnson (1894-1955), a brilliant
     instrumentalist and gifted composer, and Johnson's closest rival,
     (The Lion) Smith (1898-1973). Both were masters of the "stride" school
     Jazz piano, marked by an exceptionally strong, pumping line in the
     hand. James P.'s prize student was Fats Waller. New York pianists
     met in friendly but fierce contests--the beginnings of what would
later be
     known as jam sessions.
     In Chicago, a very different piano style came into the picture in the
     `20s, dubbed boogie-woogie after the most famous composition by its
     significant exponent, Pinetop Smith (1904-1929). This rolling,
     eight-to-the-bar bass style was popular at house parties in the Windy
     and became a national craze in 1939, after three of its best
     Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis, had been presented
     in concert at Carnegie Hall.


     Johnson was from Kansas City, where boogie-woogie was also popular.
     The midwestern center was a haven for Jazz musicians through-out the
     rule of Boss Pendergast, when the city was wide open and music could
     heard around the clock.
     The earliest and one of the best of the K.C. bands was led by Bennie
     Moten (1894-1935). By 1930 it had in its ranks pianist Count Basie
     (1905-1984) who'd learned from Fats Waller; trumpeter-singer Oran (Hot
     Lips) Page (1908-1954), one of Louis Armstrong's greatest disciples;
     an outstanding singer, Jimmy Rushing (1903-1972). The city was to put
     imprint on Jazz during the `30s and early `40s.


     The great Depression had its impact on Jazz as it did on virtually all
     facets of American life. The record business reached its lowest ebb in
     1931. By that year, many musicians who had been able to make a living
     playing Jazz had been forced to either take commercial music jobs or
     the field entirely.
     But the music survived. Again, Louis Armstrong set a pattern. At the
     of a big band with his increasingly popular singing as a feature, he
     the pop hits of the day in his unique Jazz mold, as such artists as
     Waller and Billie Holiday (1915-1959), perhaps the most gifted of
     Jazz singers would do a few years later.

     Thus, while sentimental music and romantic "crooners" were the rage
     (among them Bing Crosby who had worked with Paul Whiteman and
     learned more than a little from Jazz), a new kind of "hot" dance music
     began to take hold. It wasn't really new, but rather a streamlining of
     Henderson style, introduced by the Casa Loma Orchestra which featured
     the arrangements of Georgia-born guitarist Gene Gifford (1908-1970).
     Almost forgotten today, this band paved the way for the Swing Era.


     As we've seen, big bands were a feature of the Jazz landscape from the
     first. Though the Swing Era didn't come into full flower until 1935,
     up-and-coming young jazzmen from 1930 found themselves working in big
     Among these were two pacesetters of the decade, trumpeter Roy (Little
     Jazz) Eldridge (1911-1989) and tenorist Leon (Chu) Berry (1908-1941).
     Eldridge, the most influential trumpeter after Louis, has a fiery
     style and great range and swing. Among the bands he sparked were
     Fletcher Henderson's and Teddy Hill's. The latter group also included
     Berry, the most gifted follower of Coleman Hawkins, and the brilliant
     trombonist Dicky Wells (1909-1985).
     Another trend setting band was that of tiny, hunchbacked drummer Chick
     Webb (1909-1939), who by dint of almost superhuman energy overcame
     his physical handicap and made himself into perhaps the greatest of
all Jazz
     drummers. His band really got under way when he heard and hired a
     young girl singer in 1935. Her name was Ella Fitzgerald (b. 1917).


     But it was Benny Goodman who became the standard-bearer of swing. In
     1934, he gave up a lucrative career as a studio musician to form a big
     with a commitment to good music. His Jazz-oriented style met with
     enthusiasm at first. He was almost ready to give it up near the end of
     disastrous cross-country tour in the summer of `35 when suddenly his
     fortunes shifted. His band was received with tremendous acclaim at the
     Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles.
     It seems that the band's broadcasts had been especially well timed for
     California listeners. Whatever the reason, the band, which included
     Jazz stars as the marvelous trumpeter Bunny Berigan (1908-1942) and
     drummer Gene Krupa, not to mention Benny himself, now scored success
     after success. Some of the band's best material was contributed by
     arrangers Fletcher Henderson and his gifted younger brother Horace.
     As the bands grew in popularity, a new breed of fan began to appear.
     fan wanted to listen as much as he wanted to dance. (In fact, some
     disdained dancing altogether.) He knew each man in each band and read
     the new swing magazines that were springing up--Metronome, Down Beat,
     Orchestra World. He collected records and listened to the growing
     of band broadcasts on radio. Band leaders were becoming national
     on a scale with Hollywood stars.


     Benny's arch rival in the popularity sweepstakes was fellow
     Artie Shaw (b.1910), who was an on-again-off-again leader. Other very
     successful bands included those of Jimmy Dorsey and Tommy Dorsey,
     whose co-led Dorsey Brothers Band split up after one of their
     First among black bandleaders were Duke Ellington and Jimmie Lunceford
     (1902-1947). The latter led a highly disciplined and showmanship-
     band which nevertheless spotlighted brilliant jazz soloists, among
     saxophonists Willie Smith and Joe Thomas and trombonist Trummy Young
     (1912-1984). The man who set the band's style, trumpeter-arranger Sy
     Oliver (1910-1988), later went with Tommy Dorsey.
     A newcomer on the national scene was Count Basie's crew from Kansas
     City, with key soloists Lester Young and Herschel Evans (1909-1939) on
     tenors, Buck Clayton (1912-1992) and Harry Edison (b.1915) on
     trumpets, and Jimmy Rushing and Billie Holiday (later Helen Humes) on
     But important as these were (Lester in particular created a whole new
     for his instrument), it was the rhythm section of Basie that gave the
     its unique, smooth and rock-steady drive--the incarnation of swing,
     Freddie Green (1911-1987) on guitar, Walter Page (1900-1957) on bass,
     and Jo Jones (1911-1985) on drums and the Count on piano made the
     rhythm section what it was. Basie, of course, continued to lead
     bands, but the greatest years were 1936-42.


     The war years took a heavy toll of big bands. Restrictions made travel
     more difficult and the best talent was being siphoned off by the
draft. But
     more importantly, public tastes were changing.
     Ironically, the bands were in the end devoured by a monster they had
     given birth to: the singers. Typified by Tommy Dorsey's Frank Sinatra,
     the vocalist, made popular by a band affiliation, went out on his own;
     the public seemed to want romantic ballads more than swinging dance
     The big bands that survived the war soon found another form of
     competition cutting into their following--television. The tube kept
     home more and more, and inevitably many ballrooms shut their doors for
     good in the years between 1947 and 1955. By then it had also become
     expensive a proposition to keep 16 men traveling on the road in the
     bands' itinerant tradition. The leaders who didn't give up (Ellington,
     Woody Herman, Harry James) had something special in the way of talent
     and dedication that gave them durability in spite of changing tastes
     The only new bands to come along in the post-war decades and make it
     were those of pianist-composer Stan Kenton (1912-1979), who started
     band in 1940 but didn't hit until `45; drummer Buddy Rich (1917-1987),
     veteran of many famous swing era bands and one of jazzdom's most
     phenomenal musicians, and co-leaders Thad Jones (1923-1990), and Mel
     Lewis (1929-1990), a drummer once with Kenton. Another Kenton
     alumnus, high-note trumpeter Maynard Ferguson (b. 1928), has led
     successful big bands on and off.


     In any case, a new style, not necessarily inimical to the big bands
yet very
     different in spirit form earlier Jazz modes, had sprung up during the
     Bebop, as it came to be called, was initially a musician's music, born
in the
     experimentation of informal jam sessions.
     Characterized by harmonic sophistication, rhythmic complexity, and few
     concessions to public taste, bop was spearheaded by Charlie Parker
     (1920-1955), an alto saxophonist born and reared in Kansas City.
     After apprenticeship with big bands (including Earl Hines'), Parker
     in New York. From 1944 on, he began to attract attention on
     52nd Street, a midtown block known as "Swing Street" which featured a
     concentration of Jazz clubs and Jazz talent not equaled before or


     Bird, as Parker was called by his fans, was a fantastic improviser
     imagination was matched by his technique. His way of playing (though
     influenced by Lester Young and guitarist Charlie Christian (1916-
1942), a
     remarkable musician who was featured with Benny Goodman's sextet
     between 1939-41), was something new in the world of Jazz. His
     on musicians can be compared in scope only to that of Louis Armstrong.
     Parker's principal early companions were Dizzy Gillespie, a trumpeter
     abilities that almost matched Bird's, and drummer Kenny Clarke
     (1914-1985). Dizzy and Bird worked together in Hines' band and then in
     the one formed by Hines vocalist Billy Eckstine (1914-1993), the key
     developer of bop talent. Among those who passed through the Eckstine
     ranks were trumpeters Miles Davis (1927-1991), Fats Navarro
     (1923-1950), and Kenny Dorham (1924-1972); saxophonists Sonny Stitt
     (1924-1982), Dexter Gordon (1923-1990), and Gene Ammons
     (1925-1974); and pianist-arranger-bandleader Tadd Dameron (1917-1965).
     Bop, of course, was basically small-group music, meant for listening,
     dancing. Still, there were big bands featuring bop--among them those
     by Dizzy Gillespie, who had several good crews in the late `40s and
     to mid-50's; and Woody Herman's so-called Second Herd, which included
     the cream of white bop--trumpeter Red Rodney (b. 1927), and
     saxophonists Stan Getz (1927-1993), Al Cohn (1925-1988) and Zoot Sims
     (1925-1985), and Serge Chaloff (1923-1957).


     Ironically, the coming of bop coincided with a revival of interest in
     Orleans and other traditional Jazz. This served to polarize audiences
     musicians and point up differences rather than common ground. The
     needless harm done by partisan journalists and critics on both sides
     lingered on for years.
     Parker's greatest disciples were not alto saxophonists, except for
     Stitt. Parker dominated on that instrument. Pianist Bud Powell
     (1924-1966) translated Bird's mode to the keyboard; drummers Max
     Roach and Art Blakey (1919-1990) adapted it to the percussion
     instruments. A unique figure was pianist-composer Thelonious Monk,
     (1917-1982). With roots in the stride piano tradition, Monk was a
     forerunner of bop--in it but not of it.


      In the wake of Miles Davis' successful experiments, rock had an
  increasing impact on  Jazz. The notable Davis alumni Herbie
   Hancock (b. 1940) and Chick Corea (b.1941) explored what soon
   became known as fusion style in various ways, though neither cut
  himself off from the jazz tradition. Thus   Hancock's V.S.O.P., made
   up of `60s Davis  alumni plus trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, pursued
  Miles’ pre-electronic style, while  Corea continued to play acoustic
   jazz in various settings. Keith Jarrett(b. 1945), who also briefly
  played with Davis, never adopted  the electronic keyboards but flirted
   with rock rhythms before embarking on lengthy, spontaneously
  conceived piano recitals. The most successful fusion band was
  Weather Report, co-founded in 1970 by the Austrian-born pianist
  Joe Zawinul (b. 1932) and Wayne Shorter; the partnership lasted
  until 1986. The commercial orientation of much fusion Jazz offers
   little incentive to creative players, but it has served to introduce
   new young listeners to Jazz, and electronic instruments have been
   absorbed into the Jazz mainstream.

  New York - The Jazz Mecca

       New York City is the Jazz capital of the world. Jazz  musicians  can
  be found playing at jam sessions, smoky bistros, stately  concert  halls,
  on street corners and crowded subway platforms. Although  the  music  was
  born in New Orleans and nurtured in Kansas City, the Big Apple  has  long
  been a Mecca for great Jazz. From the big band romps  of  Duke  Ellington
  and Count Basie at The Savoy Ballroom in Harlem  to  the  Acid  Jazz  jam
  sessions downtown at Giant Step, New  York  continues  to  serve  as  the
  proving grounds for each major Jazz innovator.

     52nd Street - The Street That Never Slept

     Between 1934 and 1950, 52nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues  was
  the place for music. The block was jam-packed  with  monochromatic  five-
  story  brownstone  buildings  in  whose  drab  and  cramped  street-level
  interiors there were more clubs, bars  and  bistros  than  crates  in  an
  overstocked warehouse.  52nd Street started as a showcase for the  small-
  combo Dixieland Jazz of the speakeasy era  then added the big-band  swing
  of the New Deal 30s. Before its untimely  demise,  hastened  by  changing
  real estate values, The Street adopted the innovations of bop  and  cool.
  So in just a few hours of club hopping, a listener could walk through the
  history of Jazz on 52nd Street. Favorites  included  pianist  Art  Tatum,
  singer Billie Holiday, tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins, Count Basie and
  his Big Band, trumpeter Roy Eldridge, pianist Errol Garner,     trumpeter
  Dizzy Gillespie and alto saxophonist Charlie Parker.

     Minton's Playhouse - Birthplace of Bebop

     In the early 1940s, a group of  Jazz  revolutionaries  gathered  at  an
  uptown club called Minton's Playhouse. Through a series  of  small  group
  jam sessions frequented by musicians  in their teens and early  twenties,
  a new music called Bebop was born,  sired  by  alto  saxophonist  Charlie
  "Bird" Parker, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie  and  pianist  Thelonious  Monk.
  Bird was generally regarded as the intuitive genius and improviser of the
  group, his magic sound and awesome technique changing the face  of  Jazz.
  Diz was the conscious thinker and showman, a man  who  spent  a  lifetime
  charming audiences worldwide. Monk was  the  creative  clearinghouse  and
  refiner, a musical iconoclast whose compositions became legendary.
      At first, Bebop's eccentric starts and stops, and  torrents  of  notes
  played at machine-gun  tempos  jarred  listeners  and  proved  devilishly
  difficult to play. But  by  the  late  1940s,  when  big-band  swing  had
  declined, bop matured and became the Jazz standard.

    Birdland - Jazz Corner of the World

     Miraculously, just as 52nd caved in, Birdland opened on  Broadway.  For
  more than a decade, from 1949-1962, the survival  formula  was  memorable
  double and triple bills, commencing at 9pm and sometimes  lasting  untill
  dawn. Descending the stairs to the jammed  basement  nitery,  a  listener
  would encounter a racially mixed throng, primed for an  evening  of  high
  octane  musical  invigoration.  To  add  to  the  excitement,  Birdland's
  colorful host was Pee Wee Marquette, a uniformed midget. Riding the final
  crest of the Bebop wave, Birdland was a musical  oasis  for  accomplished
   improvisors where the finest jazz on planet earth was presented  with  a
  minimum of pretense. The club has let it all hang out ambiance encouraged
  musicians   to   stretch   the    boundaries   with   spirited   audience
  encouragement. Live radio broadcasts from the club,  hosted  by  Symphony
  Sid, compounded the excitement.


     Diversity is the word for today's Jazz. Various aspects of freedom
     been pursued by the many gifted musicians connected with the AACM
     (American Association for Creative Musicians), a collective formed in
     1965 under the guidance of the pianist-composer Richard Muhal Abrams
      (b.  1930).  Among  the  groups  that  have  emerged,   directly   and
     from the AACM are the Art Ensemble of Chicago and The World
     Saxophone Quartet, and notable musicians of this lineage include
     trumpeter Lester Bowie (b. 1941), reedmen Anthony Braxton (b.1945),
     Joseph Jarman, Julius Hemphill, Roscoe Mitchell and David Murray,
     and violinist Leroy Jenkins, Ornette Coleman has continued  to  go  his
     way, introducing a unique fusion band, Prime Time, collaborating with
     guitarist Pat Metheny (b. 1954), and  celebrating  occasional  reunions
     his original quartet.
     Quite unexpectedly, but with neat historical symmetry, a new wave of
     gifted young jazz players has emerged from New Orleans, spearheaded by
     the brilliant trumpeter Wynton Marsalis (b. 1961), who joined Art
     Jazz Messengers--a bastion of the bebop tradition--in 1979. Also an
     accomplished classical virtuoso, Marsalis was soon signed by Columbia
     Records and became the most visible new Jazz artist in many years.
     Articulate and outspoken, he has rejected fusion and stressed the
     continuity of the Jazz tradition. His slightly older brother, Branford
     Marsalis (b. 1960), who plays tenor and soprano sax, was a member of
     Wynton's quintet until he joined with rock icon Sting's band for a
year. He
     has since led his own straight-ahead jazz quartet. As his replacement
     Blakey, Wynton recommended fellow New Orleanian Terence Blanchard
     (b. 1962), who later formed a group with altoist Donald Harrison also
     from New Orleans, as co-leader.
     Many other gifted players have emerged during the present decade --
     many to list here. Many have affirmed their roots in bebop, and some
     reached even further back to mainstream swing (such as tenorist Scott
     Hamilton (b. 1954), and trumpeter Warren Vache, Jr. [b. 1951]), but
     almost all, even when choosing experimentation and innovation, operate
     within the established language of jazz. As in the other arts, Jazz
seems to
     have arrived at a postmodern stage.
     We ought not to overlook the increasingly important role being played
     women instrumentalists, among them Carla Bley, JoAnne Brackeen, Jane
     Ira Bloom, Amina Claudine Myers, Emely Remler and Janice Robinson.