UNIT 6 NOTES
Chapter 9 – Swing Era Soloists
Pg. 227-228, 229-232, 235-239, 244-252
Jammin’ the Blues:
During the swing era, leading bands were almost more well-known for their star
performers than for their over all style.
Musicians were assigned specific parts, lasting for only a short period of time,
usually only eight measures.
Soloists developed unique styles that people could distinguish them from their
timbre, melodic phrases, and rhythmic attacks.
Soloists were only as good as the leader allowed.
Soloists could quit or be lured away to other bands (like athletes). The most
controversial was the Trumpeter Cootie Williams leaving Duke Ellington’s
Orchestra for Benny Goodman’s Sextet.
Count Basie lost a few well-known soloists, including saxophonist Lester Young,
Thus he vowed to focus on arrangements instead of individual players.
They got their time to shine in jam sessions and small group bands created by
orchestra leaders such as Ellington, Goodman, and Basie
These small group bands had social and musical impact on jazz. They were some
of the first racially integrated bands. Blacks and whites had played together in
Smaller units favored musical experimentation.
Increasing popularity of soloists portended a new respect for jazz musicians.
In the 1930’s polls were being used in magazines for people to rate their favorite
bands and soloists.
1944, the swing era began to come to a halt.
o Norman Granz hired photographer, Gjon Mili, to create a film called
Jammin the Blues, which was about soloists who became famous for their
work with, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, and other bandleaders.
A master saxophone player.
Exemplifies the rise of the swing era soloist.
Adapted Armstrong’s ideas during his years with Fletcher Henderson, producing
a legato style that was very unique and refined.
Father of the Tenor
The saxophone had been around for many years before Hawkins.
o When he started playing, it became known as a scratchy novelty
The most famous sax player was Vaudeville Rudy Wiedoeft.
The first sax players in jazz focused on soprano and C-melody. As Hawkins established the Tenor, those instruments declined in popularity.
Established the tenor as an embodiment of jazz.
Thanks to Hawkins, the saxophone sometimes surpassed the trumpet as jazz’s
most iconic instrument.
The Way of the Arpeggio
Hawkins style was characterized by the heavy vibrato, powerful timbre,
emotional zeal, and harmonic ingenuity that fascinated musicians.
He changed the emphasis in jazz improvisation from embellishing the melody, to
creating vibrations based on the harmonies.
Arpeggio: A chord’s notes are played successively, one at a time. In any order.
Hawkins found many ways to maneuver through chords.
Hawkins mastery of chords steadily deepened during his years with Henderson.
He added harmonic substitutions that were richer and more intricate than ones
provided by the composer.
Across the Atlantic
In 1934, Hawkins signed with British bandleader Jack Hylton to tour England.
He expected to stay for six months, but enjoyed it so much he stayed for 5 years.
He made the tenor sax internationally recognized.
The Lestorian Mode (1909-1959)
Lester Young’s style was so radical that he was kicked out of the Henderson
band. He played the saxophone.
Trained by his father in New Orleans to play a variety of instruments.
Lester sought to recreate Trumbauer’s lighter, vibratoless sound on tenor.
He left the family band in 1927 and travelled to the Midwest to perform with
King Oliver, Benny Moten, the Blue Devils and others.
In 1933 he and Hawkins squared of in a jam session in Kansas City.
Lester went to New York with Henderson when Hawkins left for Europe in 1934.
o He did not last long to do ridicule of his light sound and was let go by
Henderson, who did not want to let him go, he then made his way back to
Young created a free-floating style wheeling and diving like a gull. Banking low,
funky riffs that pleased dancers and listeners.
An admirer of Yound, Stan Getz, called his style the Lestorian Mode: a fount of
ideas expressing a new freedom in jazz.
Young created melodic phrases that touched down on some chords and ignored
He had a more liberal attitude to dissonance and rhythm.
He repeated the same note while slightly altering its pitch and sometimes
disregarded the beat creating a counterrhythm.
In 1936 Young went to Chicago and New York with Basie’s band. He wore a broad brimmed porkpie hat.
White saxophonists admired him for his feathery timbre in the upper register and
Black saxophonists preferred his blues riffs and darker timbre in the middle and
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
The song by Charles Mingus expresses the feeling of loss that accompanied
Young’s death, at 45.
In 1944 Young was drafted into the army.
He admitted to smoking marijuana and do to his own lingo was sentenced to a
year of hard labour at an army barracks in Georgia.
He never recovered from this and fell into alcoholism and his music was never the
After spreading throughout the United States, jazz travelled across the oceans and
was being practiced in Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, and Africa.
It was recognized as a serious, exhilarating new art and in some areas, the Soviet
Union, jazz was illegal so as a rebellion it became popular.
After the war, citizens of occupied cities treated jazz musicians as heroes.
Occupy a middle ground between jazz and commercial entertainment with far
greater chance of being accepted by mainstream
o Louis Armstrong reached more people by signing than playing trumpet
Most singers in 1930s/1940s were influenced by jazz – few became true jazz
singers but the best were accepted
o Were resented at same time since could have higher financial security than
most jazz instrumentalists – especially if hired for their looks
Singers expected to charm audiences and give musicians a breather
While big-bands began to suffer in late 1940s, big-band singers moved on to be
Bing Crosby created template for jazz-influenced pop singer who could sing
every kind of song
Mildred Bailey created different template – a demand for singers who could
provide a feminine touch to masculine world of big-bands
Women singers doubled as eye-candy – referred to as a canary, sparrow, chick,
Billie Holiday (1915-1959)
Born in Philadelphia
1929 went to New York to work with her mother and began singing a year later 1933 John Hammond heard her and invited her to audition for Benny Goodman’s
band – year later she wowed the audience at Apollo’s Theatre
Now professional musician, she renamed herself after her father (Holiday) and
after silent screen star Billie Dove (Billie)
Hammond set Holiday up in recordings sessions with top musicians such as Artie
Shaw, Goodman, several members of Count Basie’s band – most significantly
o Holiday and Young shared one of the most musically fertile partnerships
Holiday briefly worked with big bands (Basie and Shaw) but mostly worked in
Her records sold well including ―Strange Fruit‖ (1939)
She suffered long, public downfall caused by her use of drugs and from a thug she
married who abused her
By 1950s she focused on ballads and her voice was weakening
1957 she appeared on TV special ―The Sound of Jazz‖ with all-star band –
Young, Hawkins, Webster, Eldridge, etc.
When she died her voice was barely a whisper
Holiday often cited as jazz’s greatest vocalist
She drew inspiration from Ethel Waters, Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong
Armstrong had big effect on Holiday – she learned how to swing, paraphrase,
embellish melody and impart blues feeling into everything she sang
Holiday did not scat-sing and rarely sang blues
Had a limited range to about an octave and a half with thin edgy timbre voice
She could alter melody to make it very personal
After her death, Frank Sinatra stated she was ―most important influence on
American popular singing in last 20 years‖
Jazz musicians adored her phrasing as well
“A Sailboat in the Moonlight” – 1937 – Billie Holiday
This song was a No.1 hit for Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians
Holiday along with Young and Count Basie’s rhythm section is rhythmically
inspiring and genuinely touching in this song
o She makes the fantasy of sailing away with her lover a dream worth
Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996)
Known as singer of musical joy
Rarely sang the blues but saw them as another song form useful for up-tempo scat
Fitzgerald also had 4 octaves at her disposal compared to Holiday and was not
averse to adding falsetto (going above her normal range) cries and low growls
Accomplished scat singer In 1934 Fitzgerald entered Apollo Theatre’s amateur night as a dancer but
changed to singing last minute and won the competition
Chick Webb took her on in his band and became her legal guardian
1935 onward she was present on most of Webb’s recordings
Became known as ―First Lady of Swing‖ and later as ―First Lady of Song‖
After Webb’s death, Fitzgerald recorded dozens of ballads, swingers (up-tempo
songs_ and novelties transitioning her into bebop
Impressario Norman Granz recruited her for his Jazz at Philharmonic concert
tours building a new record label around her – Verve
She was regarded as gold standard in both jazz and pop singing to many
“Blue Skies” – 1958 – Ella Fitzgerald
Begins with scat intro employing cantorial phrases (suggesting Jewish liturgical
Sings lyrics at medium clip accompanied by Harry ―Sweets‖ Edison’s trumpet
and making every phrase swing
The Rest of the Band
As swing soloists developed their virtuoso techniques, advancing harmonic and
rhythm ideas, rhythm section had to make radical changes to keep up
Profiles of pianists, bassists, guitarists, drummers were changed and raised to new
Wing players of rhythm section developed technical skills undreamed by early
By end of Swing Era, every instrument of ensemble could be in some way
featured as a soloist
Chapter 10 – Rhythm in Translation
Pg. 259-262, 262-266, 268, 269-270
Art Tatum (1909-1956)
Son of amateur musicians and born in Toledo, Ohio
Attended Cousino School for Blind and Toledo School of Music
o Studied violin, guitar and piano
Led bands at age 17 and signed 2 year radio contract before 20 years old
Encourage to go to New York by Duke Ellington
Tatum hired by singer Adelaide Hall in 1932 – gained respect from stride pianists
Virtuoso used to identify artist of masterly technique and skill
o Tatum was this Tatum championed by some of the greatest classical pianists of his time
o Sergei Rachmanin