As noted at the beginning of Chapter 3, the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and the Casa Loma Orchestra were two of the early successful white big bands that led the way for the white name bands of the 1930s. It also was pointed out that many of the white musicians who achieved fame and relative fortune had their starts with the Whiteman organization. Not only this, but both the Whiteman and Casa Loma orchestras influenced in some ways the name black bands, even though this may be considered to some extent regrettable. Despite the segregation enforced on musicians, there was nothing that kept them from listening to and often admiring and learning from one another. Indeed, in terms of repertoire, it seems clear that the early white bands introduced a number of tunes that eventually became jazz classics as played both by the black and the white name bands, and in this regard the white bands’ influence was important in suggesting the possibilities for innovative swing arrangements and in some ways for the advancement of the art of improvisation. Although the early white bands did not contribute so significantly in the area of improvisation as did the black bands, there were exceptions, beginning, as we have seen, with Bix Beiderbecke, and, as we shall see, continuing with such figures as Bunny Berigan and Jack Teagarden, who would themselves become leaders of two of the second tier of white bands just below those of Goodman, the Dorsey brothers, Shaw, and Miller. Often, when white sidemen were able to record in smaller groups, and their improvisational skills were allowed greater latitude, they proved fully capable of achieving high levels of technical virtuosity and artistic expression. As we have seen in the case of arranger Bill Challis of the Jean Goldkette organization, white arrangers also impressed their black counterparts and influenced their choice and handling of music materials. Although the white bands may not have had so profound an effect on swing jazz as the black bands, the former certainly had an impact on the directions the music took and its development as a genre, as well as its widespread acceptance by dancers and listeners of the swing age.
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Publication information: Book title: The Early Swing Era, 1930 to 1941. Contributors: Dave Oliphant - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 263.
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