1 Name Class Date Two Jazz Bands – A Compare and Contrast Essay Order No. 831446 Introduction In the pre-Swing Era, Jazz took root and developed in the New Orleans during the early 19th century. The genre of Jazz further spread to different areas by the steamboats that plied across the Mississippi because many Jazz bands performed on these boats as a means of entertainment…
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With these elements Jazz music introduced a new ‘Swing Style’ which spread across the country making Jazz even more popular and enjoyable. In this research paper I have chosen to discuss two very important Jazz bands – The first one is the ‘Benny Goodman and his Orchestra’ and the second is a modern Jazz band which is the ‘Thad Jones/ Mel Lewis Orchestra. 2 The years of Jazz that followed held great significance as major Jazz figures with their own inimitable style, aesthetic sense and technical skills emerged. Some of these greats on the Jazz scene were – Louis Armstrong (1932), Duke Ellington and others who set the stage for the progress of Jazz music. (Schuller, Gunther, 1989, pg.3) The socio-economic backdrop with the Depression on one hand and the Wall Street Crash on the other provided potent ground for the flourishing of Jazz. (Schuller, Gunther, 1989, pg. 4) The economic conditions were poor and unemployment was rampant and musicians found it hard to make ends meet. It was during this difficult period that the ‘Swing Era’ emerged when Jazz became synonymous with American Popular Culture. Benjamin David ‘Benny’ Goodman, clarinetist and bandleader of the group, was crowned the ‘King of Swing’ in History during this period. Born in Chicago on May 30th, 1909, Benny went on to lead one of America’s most popular Jazz orchestras. (Benny Goodman- The King of Swing, www.bennygoodman.com/) It was his popularity that epitomized the Swing Era because his music was heard by both the Blacks and Whites equally as he strived hard to quench the thirst for Jazz music for the new mass audience and finally emerged as a ‘symbol of the era’. (Schuller, Gunther, 1989, pg. 6) Benny Goodman’s career began when he joined the Henderson band which was one of the best bands of that time whose form, style and sound was so remarkable and unique. An alliance was formed and the Benny Goodman band went on to create history by shaping the future of Jazz. 3 Teenagers were swept off their feet as they craved for swing music and very soon they had a good fan following of Jitterbugs who went crazy for his music. (Benny Goodman, www.jazzhotbigstep.com/45801.html) One of his popular numbers that I listened to was ‘Swingtime in the Rockies’. It was an interesting dance number that was so foot tapping that I felt like dancing myself. It was rhythmic from beginning to end filled with staccato snatches from the clarinets and trumpets which were joined in by the trombones. The drums kept a steady rhythm right through the composition which was so energetic as it was fulfilling. (Benny Goodman, www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL47798F00A3AF3280 The music of Benny Goodman and his Orchestra is unmistakable because most of the compositions are so lively and energetic. One of the other songs I listened to is ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ which featured in a film titled ‘Hollywood Hotel’. Besides Goodman, the other players were Gene Krupa on the drums and Harry James – Trumpet. The song was fast paced and rhythmic and the orchestra played it flawlessly with the entire group joining in the last piece. (Sing, Sing, Sing’, www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mJ4dpNal_k The Benny Goodman Orchestra was the most popular swing
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