The Early Swing Era, 1930 to 1941

By Dave Oliphant | Go to book overview
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Chapter 3

The Name White Bands

Although the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and the Casa Loma Orchestra were the earliest successful white big bands of the 1930s, these two organizations would not in the long run exert the same level of influence, reap the same financial rewards, nor receive the same adoration of listeners as would the next generation of white big bands. Even though some of the future big-band leaders grew up hearing Bix Beiderbecke and Frankie Trumbauer and in some cases even performing with those Whiteman stars, the new generation of leaders would develop their bands during a different time and would leave behind the stiffer, more formal approaches of the Whiteman and Casa Loma orchestras, largely as a result of hearing and even associating with black musicians of the era. Although in the first half of the decade segregation still precluded mixed groups in public, the new generation would participate in recording sessions with black musicians, and most of the white big-band leaders would eventually hire black players for their small or large units. Hailing from Chicago, Shenandoah (Pennsylvania), New York City, and Clarinda (Iowa), these future big-band leaders would bring to jazz some of the same lyrical qualities inherent in the playing of Bix and Tram but would apply them to a big-band setting either through their own soloistic talents and/or through arrangements created by them or by their sidemen.


BENNY GOODMAN

Born on May 30, 1909, on the West Side of Chicago, Benny Goodman was active as a professional musician at age fourteen. In 1924, he took a job with the Ben Pollack band, which had relocated from the Chicago area to Venice, California, where Glenn Miller also soon arrived to join the Pollack outfit. All the major white big-band leaders of the 1930s would at one time or another play together in some group or other before eventually starting their own bands. And although all the name bandleaders of the

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