Jazz and History

(21) Swing Music

Benny Goodman

Having moved its center from New Orleans to Chicago, Jazz spread out over New York, Kansas City and West Coast. In 1920, people started playing Jazz for theater, broad casting or recording; consequently, arranged Jazz had been required that they could play a score always in the same way and the time span. A story tells that this trend then has changed Swing Music gradually.

Origin of "Jazz" was a nasty word, so it was not a good idea to use this word in the large theater or on the air.

Benny Goodman himself was not the original Swing player, but Louis Armstrong having joined Fletcher Henderson's band in 1924. After Goodman in 1935, people used "swing music" to call Jazz for a while. This word was only for well-behaved people, but in fact, you may think that Jazz and Swing Music are synonyms.

Glenn Miller

In December of 1944, a plane carrying Glenn Miller disappeared while flying over the English Canal. After two years, "swing era" went out. Any people who have watched a 1954's movie "The Glenn Miller Story" may know well about a fact regarding swing. Actually, World War II made society and economy stagnant that resulted in difficulty of big bands' management.

In 1956, a movie "The Benny Goodman Story" was produced.

Even in Japan, many big bands were active when 1950's of dance halls or 60's & 70's of live music TV programs were popular. However, it is not easy for many band members to make a life only depending on earnings from Jazz band/ it is not easy for band owners to guarantee their band members enough earnings for life. Keeping many members in band costs a lot, therefore when a job arises, a leader calls for members to organize a band, puts them uniform each time. A bandleader makes one's business carrying around scores that are treasure for him or her.

Along with Jazz band, making money as a classical music player or with orchestra is not easy. Pay is small amount, so many players have lessons for amateur players. Only a few can make enough money merely depending on playing music.

[translated by Mariko Ukawa]

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