Jazz, Sound That Transformed The Way Of Listening To Music

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Jazz, sound that transformed the way of listening to music

In the first two decades of the twentieth century, a sound that transformed the way of listening to music emerged in the United States. His rhythms and the expressiveness of his phrasing went back to Africa, and sounded fresh, dynamic, insistent. The world woke the jazz in 1917, the year in which the first albums of the original Dixieland Jazz Band were recorded, but that music had been cooking for a long time. The cells with which the embryo formed were in the black churches, in rural blues, in southern peasant music, in the boogie of the bars and train stations pianos, in the rhythmic energy and pianistic elegance of the piano Ragtime (in the first years of the twentieth century it reached enormous popularity and dominated music and dance), in the bands of parades and funerals and in the pianos of the brothels. These seeds existed in many places in the United States, but especially in New Orleans.

Of the religious music of the black churches (gospel) to the blues, Ragtime, Jazz and Boogie-Woogie, as well as the country music to country include many decades and many musicians and events. In order to make it a little smaller, we will chronologically enumerate the most relevant events and people who made possible the evolution of American music, since the 30s in the late 50 20th century: rock and roll.

Swing is a jazz style that became popular during the 30s and that is characterized by an increase in the quantity and variety of instruments used to form the so -called "Big Bands".

Swing is a composite music, although with a small space for improvisation, and carefully orchestrated; often establishing strong contrasts between metals (trumpets and trombones) and cane instruments (clarinets and saxophones). It is touched softly and with a slight rubber. Another characteristic of the swing style is the riff, a melodic or harmonious phrase that moves from section in section. Anyway, an electrifying sound that puts anyone.

With the song by Duke Ellington of 1932 “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Shot Swing)” begins a golden age for the Big Band. Because despite the crisis (they had not yet recovered from the 1929 New York Stock Exchange), the public continued to demand shows and a new generation showed that what interested him was to do whatever it was to ignore depression and Have a good time dancing with swing orchestras.

Swing returned a youthful energy to American popular music. Its main audience consisted, initially, in adults of university age and adolescents, the swing was an exciting, impetuous and vital music; inspired by black aesthetics and in line with the growing optimism of a nation that emerges from a devastating economic depression.

These bands came accompanied by a handful of brilliant instrumental soloists, capable of telling increasingly complex stories about the rhythmic load of the orchestras. The swing, in the thirties, became synonymous with jazz.

At first, their actions were limited to the halls of large hotels, which sought to be also part of that modernity that jazz had, but very soon the concert halls began to be filled with a audience aware that they were seeing the creators of a New musical genre.

While the great swing formations reached the masses, the self-proclaimed jazz elite remained separate. They rejected the Big Bands as a commercial distortion, and claimed that the authentic jazz was improvised and in small groups, whose roots went back in the late twenties.

Racism in force in the United States was also reflected in music, so two trends in swing development were made. In the early 30s the whites began to study and imitate the black culture with greater passion and in greater quantity, so jazz opened the door to many white musicians who began to enjoy success in the competitive US society. The white bands that stood out in New York were, among others: those of Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw but very influenced by the importance of Fletcher Henderson in the development of swing.

In August 1935, the Goodman band, played at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles. Goodman began acting with soft dance music, and the public, mostly composed of university students, was cold. To the desperate one, he interpreted the version made by Henderson of "King Porter Stomp". The public went crazy. The commercial time of a great black -style, vigorous and electrifying jazz band had arrived. After the performance at the Ballroom Palomar, the Goodman Orchestra began a spectacular ascent that made it one of the most popular bands in the country.

Also, little by little, black jazz stopped being folk music to become popular music. Remember that jazz was constantly demonized by the press from the first twenty years. There were many who perceived jazz as a symptom of a generalized moral decline, dementia and sex; associating it with drug addiction, alcoholism, venereal diseases, game and organized crime. An article, in a Chicago newspaper, at the end of the First World War is very illustrative about it:

“Jazz, reason for perdition, the reformists affirm. The moral disaster looms on hundreds of American girls under the dechicing, pathological and lascivious effect of jazz music, said a spokesman for the Illinois Surveillance Association. This association considers that only in Chicago more than a thousand women have been victims of jazz in the last two years. This neurotic and insidious music that accompanies modern dance is charged its victims both in small rural cities and in the metropolis, in poor homes as well as in the accommodated mansions. This degrading music is no longer redoubted by bad reputation, but has spread to school parties, luxury hotels and high society circles ”.

However, for many color musicians jazz was a vehicle to succeed in American society, the path to economic success, the improvement of social level and public recognition. Within the black bands there were two characteristic sounds, those of New York made a swing more linked to blues, among others, that of Cab Calloway, Jimmie Lundeford and the famous of Chick Webb, main orchestra of the Savoy Ballroom de Harlem, a room of Dance for 4.000 people where blacks and blacks, despite existing racism, had fun dancing the Lindy Hop. However, the main band of the time and later, was Duke Ellington’s.

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