The Growth of Jazz Music




It was in the turn of the century, around 1920, that the growth of jazz music began. This was a time that many artists made their mark by playing in tucked-away underground clubs known as "Speakeasies", which were upper class, "Blind pig" for lower class, or "Smokeasy" for smokers. The United States once prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages and smoking tobacco in clubs as a constitutional amendment. One could usually find an underground nightclub by the doors without a sign indicating such an as establishment existed inside. Those nightclubs had access to a secret door that lead out to a passageway or alley in case the police came to investigate. The police had the power to arrest everyone in the place due to the fact that they were breaking the law by just being there.

However, things were beginning to look up for jazz musicians once the invention of the record player or phonograph was made to play their albums. Additionally, radio stations helped to promote this type of music, making it popular. Jazz became a music of class that earned the era a nickname known as the "Jazz Age". The band leaders who became famous as jazz musicians were Paul Whiteman, Ted Lewis, Harry Reser, Leo Reisman, Abe Lyman, Nat Shilkret, Earl Burnett, Ben Bernie, George Olson, Bob Haring, Vincent Lopez, Ben Salvin and many more. Paul Whiteman claimed to be the "king of jazz" due to his popularity. He earned the title when he hired some white jazz musicians, with Bix Beiderbecke included, to combine jazz with larger orchestrations. In fact, George Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue" was commissioned by Whiteman as his debut for the orchestra.

Ten years after jazz became popular it was reinvented into a style that would be suitable for radio and dancing. This style was known as "Swing" which allowed musicians to improvise their own interpretation of the melody or theme that was sometimes difficult to do. In the Swing era jazz bands grew into a larger size which was often referred to as "Big Band" music that would always feature a soloist.

The band leaders and music arrangers for jazz music who became famous for this style of music was Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Earl Hines, Fletcher Henderson, Walter Page, Benny Goodman, Don Redman, Chick Webb, Jimmie Lunceford, and Jay McShann. During this time there were racial issues of segregation between black and white people, but it slowly died down enough for the white band leaders to find black musicians to perform with them. It was in the mid 1930's that Benny Goodman had invited the pianist Teddy Wilson, vibraphonist Lionel Hampton, and guitarist Charlie Christian to be part of a group. Each musician learned from the style of other musicians in order to form their own. For example, Cab Calloway, Dizzy Gillespie(trumpeter), and Bing Crosby (vocalist) were influenced by the improvising of Louis Armstrong. Later on, the vocalists Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Sarah Vaughn joined the scene with jazz improvisation known as the scat. To scat is to vocally imitate musical instruments by using a nonverbal language such as doot 'n doo bee yah bah loo.

In the beginning of the 1940's, jazz evolved yet again into a new style known as "Jump Music", which was upbeat music using blues chords performed by small music groups. These small music groups are the forms many bands make today. Later, another style of jazz music came using the music of the 1930's as an inspiration called "Boogie-Woogie" where the usual 4 beat bar section expanded into an 8 beat bar section in the rhythm which Big Joe Turner took the lead in the 1940's.

In the 1950's, music reinvented again when Turner turned to "Rock and Roll music". As for the Swing era of jazz music, it was reborn in the use of the modern dance trends. Kansas City made a memorial for Charlie Parker in their American Jazz Museum that displays the history of the music and the people who made jazz music what it has become.




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