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Charlie Jennison - Jazz - Hummingbird Farm Productions: Blog

The Big Band in Jazz

Posted on August 16, 2016 with 0 comments

The Big Band in Jazz - from a lecture to be delivered at the University of New England on Oct. 4th, 2016.

 

Questions about jazz in general?

Definitive sources of information(with thanks to Amazon.com)

 

“Early Jazz” by Gunther Schuller ISBN: 0-19-504043-0

Early Jazz is one of the seminal books on American jazz, ranging from the beginnings of jazz as a distinct musical style at the turn of the century to its first great flowering in the 1930s. Schuller explores the music of the great jazz soloists of the twenties--Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke, Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, and others--and the big bands and arrangers--Fletcher Henderson, Bennie Moten, and especially Duke Ellington--placing their music in the context of the other musical cultures of the twentieth century and offering analyses of many great jazz recordings.
Early Jazz provides a musical tour of the early American jazz world. A classic study, it is both a splendid introduction for students and an insightful guide for scholars, musicians, and jazz aficionados.

 

 

“The Swing Era” by Gunther Schuller ISBN-13: 978-0195071405

Here is the book jazz lovers have eagerly awaited, the second volume of Gunther Schuller's monumental The History of Jazz. When the first volume, Early Jazz, appeared two decades ago, it immediately established itself as one of the seminal works on American music. Nat Hentoff called it "a remarkable breakthrough in musical analysis of jazz," and Frank Conroy, in The New York Times Book Review, praised it as "definitive.... A remarkable book by any standard...unparalleled in the literature of jazz." It has been universally recognized as the basic musical analysis of jazz from its beginnings until 1933. 
The Swing Era focuses on that extraordinary period in American musical history--1933 to 1945--when jazz was synonymous with America's popular music, its social dances and musical entertainment. The book's thorough scholarship, critical perceptions, and great love and respect for jazz puts this well-remembered era of American music into new and revealing perspective. It examines how the arrangements of Fletcher Henderson and Eddie Sauter--whom Schuller equates with Richard Strauss as "a master of harmonic modulation"--contributed to Benny Goodman's finest work...how Duke Ellington used the highly individualistic trombone trio of Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton, Juan Tizol, and Lawrence Brown to enrich his elegant compositions...how Billie Holiday developed her horn-like instrumental approach to singing...and how the compositions and arrangements of the long-forgotten John Nesbitt helped shape Swing Era styles through their influence on Gene Gifford and the famous Casa Loma Orchestra. Schuller also provides serious reappraisals of such often neglected jazz figures as Cab Calloway, Henry "Red" Allen, Horace Henderson, Pee Wee Russell, and Joe Mooney.
Much of the book's focus is on the famous swing bands of the time, which were the essence of the Swing Era. There are the great black bands--Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Jimmie Lunceford, Earl Hines, Andy Kirk, and the often superb but little known "territory bands"--and popular white bands like Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsie, Artie Shaw, and Woody Herman, plus the first serious critical assessment of that most famous of Swing Era bandleaders, Glenn Miller. There are incisive portraits of the great musical soloists--such as Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Bunny Berigan, and Jack Teagarden--and such singers as Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, and Helen Forest.

 

 

 

“The History of Jazz” by Ted Gioa ISBN 978-0-19-539970-7

Ted Gioia's History of Jazz has been universally hailed as a classic--acclaimed by jazz critics and fans around the world. Now Gioia brings his magnificent work completely up-to-date, drawing on the latest research and revisiting virtually every aspect of the music, past and present.
Gioia tells the story of jazz as it had never been told before, in a book that brilliantly portrays the legendary jazz players, the breakthrough styles, and the world in which it evolved. Here are the giants of jazz and the great moments of jazz history--Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington at the Cotton Club, cool jazz greats such as Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, and Lester Young, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie's advocacy of modern jazz in the 1940s, Miles Davis's 1955 performance at the Newport Jazz Festival, Ornette Coleman's experiments with atonality, Pat Metheny's visionary extension of jazz-rock fusion, the contemporary sounds of Wynton Marsalis, and the post-modernists of the current day. Gioia provides the reader with lively portraits of these and many other great musicians, intertwined with vibrant commentary on the music they created. He also evokes the many worlds of jazz, taking the reader to the swamp lands of the Mississippi Delta, the bawdy houses of New Orleans, the rent parties of Harlem, the speakeasies of Chicago during the Jazz Age, the after hours spots of corrupt Kansas city, the Cotton Club, the Savoy, and the other locales where the history of jazz was made. And as he traces the spread of this protean form, Gioia provides much insight into the social context in which the music was born.

 

 

 “Swing to Bop” by Ira Gitler 978-0195050707

This indispensable book brings us face to face with some of the most memorable figures in jazz history and charts the rise and development of bop in the late 1930s and '40s. Ira Gitler interviewed more than 50 leading jazz figures, over a 10-year period, to preserve for posterity their recollections of the transition in jazz from the big band era to the modern jazz period. The musicians interviewed, including both the acclaimed and the unrecorded, tell in their own words how this renegade music emerged, why it was a turning point in American jazz, and how it influenced their own lives and work. Placing jazz in historical context, Gitler demonstrates how the mood of the nation in its post-Depression years, racial attitudes of the time, and World War II combined to shape the jazz of today.

 

“How To Listen To Jazz” by Jerry Coker

New, revised edition of Jerrys best-selling Listening To Jazz. Since 1900, when jazz - a uniquely American music form - began to evolve, much of its allure and artistic growth has depended on the creative freedom and expressive force that improvisation allows its performers. Jerry Coker, himself a teacher, composer/arranger, and noted saxophonist, has written How To Listen To Jazz to fill the need for a layman's guide to understanding improvisation and its importance in the development of this artistically rich yet complex music form. Without relying on overly technical language or terms, Jerry Coker shows how you can become a knowledgeable jazz listener - whether you are an aspiring musician, student, jazz aficionado, or new listener. In addition to looking at the structure of jazz and explaining what qualities to look for in a piece, the author provides a complete chronology of the growth of jazz, from its beginnings in the rags of Scott Joplin, the New Orleans style of the 1920s made famous by Bessie Smith, Bix Beiderbecke and Louis Armstrong, the Swing Era with Benny Goodman, and Art Tatum, Be-Bop, post Be-Bop, to the greats of Modern Jazz, including Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, and Wes Montgomery. Also including a list of suggested recordings, a section on the improvised solo, and a complete glossary of jazz terms, How To Listen To Jazz offers you a complete introduction to the entire jazz experience...the music and those who make it.