Description - The Swing Era by Gunther Schuller
Taking up where Early Jazz (OPB, #6.95) leaves off, this second volume of Gunther Schuller's history of jazz considers the swing era - the age of dance bands and radio shows. Tracing the origins of swing and its effects on American musical and social life, he assesses the distinctive sounds of great bandleaders like Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Woody Herman, instrumentalists such as Art Tatum, Cab Calloway, and Pee Wee Russell, and such vocalists as Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and Peggy Lee.
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(234mm x 156mm x 37mm)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Book Reviews - The Swing Era by Gunther Schuller
US Kirkus Review »
Vol. II of Schuller's in-depth history of jazz (after Early Jazz, 1968). Early Jazz cut off at 1933, and covered an era that Schuller characterized as an age of restless curiosity in music. The volume at hand takes jazz up to the end of WW II, a period that saw the "establishment in jazz of a system of order, a sense of unity . . .resting on the foundations laid in the late 1920's." Thus, while "the swing era" is often viewed as standing alone as a particular expression of American culture - via the music of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, etc., all chronicled here - Schuller resists the temptation to isolate that era from both its antecedents and its heirs. An underlying theme here is the extent to which "swing" contained the germ of its own demise. While, as Schuller writes, "the greatness of jazz lies in the fact that it never ceases to develop and change," too many proponents of "swing" (represented by the average dance band of the period) concerned themselves with their own self-perpetuation: "It became in far too many instances a static music that never looked outside or beyond itself. Anxious only to hold onto its own order and stability, it was bound to petrify." Bursting with detail, but preachy and opinionated. For the flavor of jazz, best to turn to the literate writings of Gene Lees (Singers and the Song, 1987). Schuller, incidentally, promises a third volume, covering post-WW II "modern jazz." (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Gunther Schuller
Prominent American composer, horn-player, and writer on music.