Swing to Bop: An Oral History of the Transition in Jazz in the 1940s

By Ira Gitler | Go to book overview

1
The Road

In the period from the early '30s to the war years, the big bands were king and inspired the same adulation that rock bands enjoy today. The jazz fan and the young jazz musician had a very close relationship. Indeed, very often they were one and the same.

SHELLY MANNE I remember when I subbed for Davey Tough years ago-- when he got ill one night--at the Hickory House with Joe Marsala. I was sitting there playing, and I had been playing drums maybe a year, a little over a year at that time. And Benny Goodman came in 'cause he wanted to hire Davey to join the band. He sat down at the circular bar, right next to the drums. I was playing and it was really nerves time because Benny was there. It's 19 . . .'41 I guess. '40 or '41. Anyway, Benny had, to me, the greatest band he ever had at that time. That was when Charlie Christian and Cootie Williams were on the band--Artie Bernstein and Mike Bryan, Georgie Auld, Gus Bivona. That was a wild band. Eddie Sauter was doing all the writing--"Benny Rides Again."

He left, after he spoke to Joe, and Joe Marsala goes, "Hey, Benny liked the way you played. Maybe he's gonna give you a call." I said, "Hey, you're kidding." About an hour later the phone rang, and Benny said, "Hey kid, what's your name?" And I said, " Shelly Manne." He said, "This is Benny Goodman." I said, "Yes, Mr. Goodman." He says, "You wanta go on the road with my band?" I said, "Yeah." He couldn't get Davey, and I guess he liked the way I played. He said, "Just be down to Grand Central Station tomorrow with your cymbals. I have the drums."

So I put the cymbals under my arm the next day. I think the train was leaving at eleven. I must have been there about eight, sitting there with my one little suitcase, and here they come, about two hours after I'd gotten there, but they start walking in--Cootie, Georgie Auld, Charlie Christian, and Helen Forrest--and, man, I'm sitting there, and

-9-

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Swing to Bop: An Oral History of the Transition in Jazz in the 1940s
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - The Road 9
  • 2 - Roots and Seeds 32
  • 3 - Minton's and Monroe's 75
  • 4 - Fifty-Second Street 118
  • 5 - California 160
  • 6 - Big-Band Bop 184
  • 7 - The Bop Era 219
  • 8 - End of an Era 291
  • Epilogue 318
  • Index 321
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