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|“||There was a time, from 1935–1946, when teenagers and young adults danced to jazz-orientated bands. When jazz orchestras dominated pop charts and when influential clarinettists were household names. This was the swing era.||”|
The swing era (also frequently referred to as the "big band era") was the period of time (around 1935–1946) when big band swing music was the most popular music in the United States. Though this was its most popular period, the music had actually been around since the late 1920s and early 1930s, being played by black bands led by such artists as Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford, Bennie Moten, Cab Calloway, and Fletcher Henderson, and white bands from the 1920s led by the likes of Russ Morgan and Isham Jones. The era's beginning is sometimes dated from Benny Goodman's performance at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles on August 21, 1935, bringing the music to the rest of the country.
Music experimentation has always been popular in America. The many avenues of black, white, Latin, American, and European music influences merged when Swing arrived. In 1932, early in the jazz, and the sweet music styles of the American music scene - they worked on new, often unheard-of musical arrangements that were emphasized toward a more polished song with a bounce. Recordings by Isham Jones, the popular jazz/blues bandleader, and his orchestra which sometimes included Benny Goodman recorded for RCA Victor. The swing era also was precipitated by spicing up familiar commercial, popular material with a Harlem oriented flavour and selling it via a white band for a white musical/commercial audience.1
The jazz/blues era brought to swing music Louis Armstrong, Billy Holiday, and by 1938 Ella Fitzgerald. Other musicians who rose during this time include Jimmy Dorsey, his brother Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Goodman's future rival Artie Shaw, and Woody Herman who departed the Isham Jones band in 1936 to start his own band. Several factors led to the demise of the swing era: the recording ban from August 1942 to November 1944 (The union that most jazz musicians belong to told its members not to record until the record companies agreed to pay them each time their music was played on the radio), the earlier ban of ASCAP songs from radio stations, World War II which made it harder for bands to travel around as well as the "cabaret tax", which was as high as 30%, the change in music taste and the rise of bebop. Though Ellington and Basie were able to keep their bands together (the latter did briefly downsize his band; from 1950–1952), by the end of 1946, most of their competitors were forced to disband, bringing the swing era to a close.
The swing era produced many classic recordings. Some of those are:
- "Begin the Beguine" written by Cole Porter, recorded by Artie Shaw
- "Bei Mir Bist Du Schön" by the Andrews Sisters with Vic Schoen and his Orchestra
- "Body and Soul" by Coleman Hawkins, music by Johnny Green and lyrics by Frank Eyton, Edward Heyman and Robert Sour
- "Chattanooga Choo Choo" by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra and featured in the 1941 movie "Sun Valley Serenade"
- "Cherokee" by Charlie Barnet, music and lyrics by Ray Noble
- "Daddy From Georgia Way" recorded by Bob Chester and His Orchestra on Columbia Records, lyrics and music by Daisy Lawton, a pen name for Gloria Parker
- "Goody Goody" by Benny Goodman and His Orchestra (with vocalist Helen Ward)
- "HEY! Here Comes That Mood" recorded by Vincent Lopez, music and lyrics by Gloria Parker
- "I Can't Get Started" by Bunny Berigan
- "In Santiago by the Sea" by Gloria Parker and recorded by Vincent Lopez and His Orchestra
- "In the Mood" by Glenn Miller
- "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" by Duke Ellington
- "Jersey Bounce" by Benny Goodman
- "Jumpin' at the Woodside" by Count Basie
- "Leap Frog", the theme song of Les Brown (bandleader)
- "Minnie the Moocher" by Cab Calloway, Irving Mills, and Clarence Gaskill
- "Pennsylvania 6-5000 (song)" by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra
- "Sing, Sing, Sing" by Louis Prima
- "Song of India" by Tommy Dorsey
- "Stardust", which has been recorded by everyone from Armstrong, to Miller to Shaw; music and lyrics by Hoagy Carmichael
- "Stompin' at the Savoy" by Benny Goodman
- "Tonight Be Tender To Me" by Gloria Parker and recorded by Una Mae Carlisle
- "Tuxedo Junction" by Erskine Hawkins
- "Where, I Wonder, Where?" and "What Would Happen To Me If Something Happened To You?" by Isham Jones, and Three X Sisters, vocalists
- The jazz of the Southwest citing "The Book of Jazz: A Guide to the Entire Field. Leonard Feather. page 110.