Here is the book jazz lovers have eagerly awaited, the second volume of Gunther Schuller's monumental The History of Jazz. When the first volume, Early Jazz, appeared two decades ago, it immediately established itself as one of the seminal works on American music. Nat Hentoff called it "a remarkable breakthrough in musical analysis of jazz," and Frank Conroy, in The New York Times Book Review, praised it as "definitive.... A remarkable book by any standard...unparalleled in the literature of jazz." It has been universally recognized as the basic musical analysis of jazz from its beginnings until 1933.
The Swing Era focuses on that extraordinary period in American musical history--1933 to 1945--when jazz was synonymous with America's popular music, its social dances and musical entertainment. The book's thorough scholarship, critical perceptions, and great love and respect for jazz puts this well-remembered era of American music into new and revealing perspective. It examines how the arrangements of Fletcher Henderson and Eddie Sauter--whom Schuller equates with Richard Strauss as "a master of harmonic modulation"--contributed to Benny Goodman's finest work...how Duke Ellington used the highly individualistic trombone trio of Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton, Juan Tizol, and Lawrence Brown to enrich his elegant compositions...how Billie Holiday developed her horn-like instrumental approach to singing...and how the seminal compositions and arrangements of the long-forgotten John Nesbitt helped shape Swing Era styles through their influence on Gene Gifford and the famous Casa Loma Orchestra. Schuller also provides serious reappraisals of such often neglected jazz figures as Cab Calloway, Henry "Red" Allen, Horace Henderson, Pee Wee Russell, and Joe Mooney.
Much of the book's focus is on the famous swing bands of the time, which were the essence of the Swing Era. There are the great black bands--Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Jimmie Lunceford, Earl Hines, Andy Kirk, and the often superb but little known "territory bands"--and popular white bands like Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsie, Artie Shaw, and Woody Herman, plus the first serious critical assessment of that most famous of Swing Era bandleaders, Glenn Miller. There are incisive portraits of the great musical soloists--such as Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Bunny Berigan, and Jack Teagarden--and such singers as Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, and Helen Forest.
Charles Peterson entered the jazz world of New York as a guitarist but made his true contribution documenting an era and its most notable performers. Among the countless subjects he enshrined on film are Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, Lester Young and Jack Teagarden. Commentary by jazz historian and critic W. Royal Stokes connects the musicians featured in Peterson's photogrpahs to each other and to the music within the social world of jazz.
Before Elvis Presley and rock-'n'-roll, another King ruled the roost of American popular music. His name was Benny Goodman and his domain, the gilded age of Swing. Benny's concerts, records, and radio shows catapulted the hot and controversial sounds of jazz into the hearts and homes of a hungry public. Swing, Swing, Swing at once illustrates Goodman's enormous impact on American music and culture, reflects the rich textures of the times in which he lived, and evokes the very private life of a complicated, difficult man. Raised in a tenement in Chicago's Maxwell Street ghetto, he grew up to become the symbol of glamorous high-society living. Benny's undeniable position as social groundbreaker --his were the nation's first racially integrated bands--was characteristically downplayed by the man himself: he simply wanted the finest musicians he could find. Here are the sounds and stories that define the remarkable life of the world's most demanding and idiosyncratic band leader. The violent clashes between his smiling public persona and his intensely private nature; the infamous "Goodman Ray" (no musician who played with Benny escaped its wrath); the conflicting stories of Goodman's parsimony and his largess--these stories and many more paint a vibrant portrait of a truly original, undeniably American artist.
Charlie Barnet (1913-1991) is best known as the popular bandleader whose hits included Cherokee, Pompton Turnpike, and Skyliner. But he was also the first to break the color barrier in a popular dance band, and his black musicians included Clark Terry, Roy Eldridge, and singer Lena Horne; his white musicians included Jack Purvis, Red Norvo, Maynard Ferguson, and Doc Severinson. Barnet not only played jazz, he lived the jazz life: in this book, he writes of his whiskey and marijuana habits, of his whorehouse visits and his half-dozen marriages. Charlie Barnet epitomised the jazz age, and there are few memoirs as lively as Those Swinging Years.
Now available for a new generation of swing enthusiasts, reissued to coincide with the release of "The World of Swing" CD from Columbia/Legacy, this monumental history of big band jazz, documented through interviews with forty leading musicians, has been updated with a new introduction and discography by Dan Morgenstern.