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The Swing Era Big Bands (1936 - 1941)

Russell Perry By

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In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the very dance-oriented swinging music of the Big Bands was the most popular music around. Never had jazz been more central to mass culture. Just over the horizon were the draft of 1940 that eventually conscripted 10 million men, making it increasingly difficult to field top notch bands; war shortages of gasoline and shellac limiting both touring and recording; the economic infeasibility of touring with 16-member orchestras; the musicians strike and recording ban of 1942—1944 and the resulting decline in the major labels and the rise of independent labels; the decline of dance halls in the aftermath of the war; and the rise of juke boxes and radio as primary entertainment media.

But in the late 1930s, it seemed like the swinging would never end.

Playlist

  • Host Intro 0:00
  • Benny Goodman & His Orchestra. "Sugar Foot Stomp" from Big Band: Vol. 069, Benny Goodman (1937) (Encyclopedia of Jazz) 2:38
  • Host speaks 5:24
  • Benny Goodman & His Orchestra. "Jam Session" from Big Band: Vol. 068, Benny Goodman (1936-37) (Encyclopedia of Jazz) 5:55
  • Benny Goodman and his Orchestra. "I Want to Be Happy" from Big Band: Vol. 068, Benny Goodman (1936-37) (Encyclopedia of Jazz) 8:49
  • Host speaks 11:24
  • Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra. "Stomp It Off" from Big Band: Vol. 090, Tommy Dorsey (1939-45) (Encyclopedia of Jazz) 12:28
  • Host speaks 16:10
  • Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra. "Quiet Please" from Big Band: Vol. 090, Tommy Dorsey (1939-45) (Encyclopedia of Jazz) 16:46
  • Host speaks 19:30
  • Artie Shaw and His Orchestra. "Begin the Beguine" from Artie Shaw—Begin the Beguine (RCA Bluebird) 21:45
  • Artie Shaw and His Orchestra. "Concerto for Clarinet—Part 1 & Part 2" from Big Band: Vol. 081, Artie Shaw (1940-41) (Encyclopedia of Jazz) 24:57
  • Host speaks 34:20
  • Artie Shaw and His Orchestra. "Star Dust" from The Norton Jazz Recordings (Norton) 35:25
  • Host speaks 38:56
  • Gene Krupa and his Orchestra. "Rockin' Chair" from Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz (Smithsonian) 41:07
  • Gene Krupa and his Orchestra. "Let Me Off Uptown" from The Jazz Singers (Smithsonian) 44:06
  • Host speaks 47:08
  • Woody Herman and his Orchestra. "Woodchoppers' Ball" from Big Band: Vol. 084, Woody Herman (1937-43) (Encyclopedia of Jazz) 47:50
  • Woody Herman and his Orchestra. "Golden Wedding" from Big Band: Vol. 084, Woody Herman (1937- 43) (Encyclopedia of Jazz) 51:01
  • Host Outro 54:07
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