Big band music is a frequently heard of name in the different genres of music. The swing is an integral part of big band music. It was in the 1920s when swing made its foray into the heart of the people of America and those living outside. It was New Orleans from where it all started. The music of instruments such as coronet and trumpet was at that time playing in people’s minds. The band that was a hot favorite was King Oliver. Louis Armstrong and Fletcher Henderson were in this band.
Fletcher Henderson of King Oliver is considered as the innovator of Big Band Swing. The real groundwork of the swing as we know it today started from there. Henderson standardized the use of trombones, trumpets and saxophones and he expanded greatly on the different sound sections and instruments. He also put off some of the instruments and fully harmonized what was present.
Swing came to be distinguished because of its supple feel. Another person besides Henderson who is credited with the development of the swing is Walter Page. Starting from the ’20s till the ’30s, it continued to rule the roost. People often ridiculed this genre of music, the big band music. Few looked at it with curiosity and it was not until 1935 that swing music in its distinctive style started to capture the heart and soul of the people. Earlier, the bands were made of African American members; slowly western musicians formed swing bands too.
Different styles developed with the different bands. A sense of individuality was apparent and this reflected in the music genre too. The style was mostly reminiscent of the charisma of band leaders. Count Basie was identified with his propulsive and relaxed swing. The Dixieland style of swing belonged to Bob Crosby. A driving swing was hard and it was Benny Goodman who forayed into it. In addition, Duke Ellington was also able to shine high and clean amongst these names with his sophisticated and varied music.
The sounds in the orchestra that dominated were the sounds of instruments such as clarinets. It was purely Benny Goodman’s style and also Woody Herman’s and Artie Shaw’s. In music genius Jack Teagarden’s orchestra, it was the trombone. Harry James favored the trumpet. Similarly, drums were the favorite of Gene Krupa. These popular and eminent musicians and their bands amplified this genre of music with the help of their star vocalists. For instance, there was Frank Sinatra together with Tommy Dorsey, and Helen O’Connell as well as Bob Eberly who were with Jimmy Dorsey. Other famous individuals include Ella Fitzgerald, Chick Webb, Jimmy Rushing, Billie Holiday and Count Basie. Some bands relied strongly on soloists.
With no market for the smaller recording groups, the dominant forces came to realize that they have to retire pretty soon. Hence, Jelly Roll Morton as well as King Oliver retired to obscurity, although strong forces in such courses were Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines. The “white” big bands belonged to names as Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw and Shep Fields.
This genre of music, or the big band music, comprising both jazz and swing lifted spirit of the people and the morale of the soldiers during World War II. Many members of the bands also served and toured with the military.