Major Changes


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·       Big band preferred ensemble

·       Saxophones more common; surpassed clarinet

·       Upright bass (stand-up bass)

o   Acoustic bass

o   Which is not dependent on breath to play

o   Emergence of walking bass

·       More high-hat in drums

·       Overall a smoother rhythmic feel

o   Made swing more attractive to dancers than pervious jazz period

Now incorporating arrangements into performances





Four of each instrument in section:

  • Trumpet Section
  • Trombone Section
  • Saxophone Section

Rhythm Section (Upright Bass, Guitar, Percussion)

Roles of Players
• Lead trumpet playe: Generally plays the highest notes; Stylistic leader. Others need to match their phrasing with lead trumpet player
• Lead trombone player
• Lead saxophone player: Usually almost always the alto saxophone
• Lead brass player: Soloist – usually 2nd trumpet/trombone
o Third players: They were good musicians that could play in the section, match the style of the lead playero 3rd and 4th trombones – section players, nothing really distinctive
Noteworthy Arrangers
o Fletcher Henderson
o Duke Ellington
o Billy Strayhorn
o Sy Oliver
o Mary Lou Williams

Instrument Style


Rhythm Guitar – dominant style

o Strums percussively 

Piano played syncopated chords

o Less busy than early jazz

o No stride piano in big bands


o Later, played all four beats

o Bass primarily a background   instrument, not solo


o Main purpose of the drums was to keep a steady beat for the dancers

Freddie Green
Rhythm Guitar Player
Gene Krupa
Drummer in Benny Goodman’s Band
Fletcher Henderson
Band conductor, arranger, composer, pianist
Jimmie Lunceford
Saxaphonist, band leader; didn’t pay sidemen; costumes
William “Count” Basie
Pianist, Band Leader
Benny Goodman
Clarinetist; Commercially successful in swing era
Glenn Miller

Trombonist, but usually conductor; Put clarinet at the top of chord “Glen Miller sound” but did not invent it




Jimmy Dorsey
Tommy Dorsey
Woody Herman
Andy Kirk
Conductor; Larger than normal big band
Artie Shaw
King of the Clarinet; Clarinetist; Rival of Benny Goodman
Harry James
Cab Calloway
Conductor and Vocalist
Lionel Hampton
Jazz vibraphonist, pianist, percussionist; part of Benny Goodman’s sextest
Trombonists and what they introduced


· Jack Teagarden:  Playing evolved to consist with the music of the swing era

·Tommy Dorsey: Band leader and featured soloist in band and Made trombone a melody carrying instrumet (Previously, trombones just filled in the gaps)

· Lawrence Brown: Lead trombonist/soloist in Ellington’s band

· Bill Harris: Woody Harrison Band


Roy Eldrige


o   “Little Jazz”

o   Link between swing and modern jazz

o   Most notable swing era trumpet player

o   Powerful high register

o   A lot of agility and control

o   Ability to vary his tone and vibrato


Art Tatum

Great improviser

o   Most influential piano players, dazzling

o   Amazing technique

o   Incorporating spontaneous reharmonization

§  To change something

o   He could this on the spot

o   Best for consistency of performance

o   Black

o   Did not play in nice concert halls

o   Blind!!!

o   Pre-performance ritual

§  Play key by key

§  In that time, he memorized all the keys that were not right and avoided them all night

o   “Elegie”




  • Teddy Wilson: Lighter touch; Goodman’s sextest
  • Nat King Cole: in his trio (bass, guitar, piano), he had a softer sound because no drums. HORN-LIKE PLAYING
  • Erroll Gardner: considered as swing/bebiop player; best known for jazz standard “misty”
  • Mary Lou Williams: boogie-woogie piano, modern styles (hard bop, avant garde)
  • Milt Buckner: created block chording: left played chord everything right did –> made melody thicker 



  • Cole Hawkins: “Chugging Sound”, Big robust sound
  • Don Byas: Greater harmonic sophistication, liked double time, reharmonization: give a boost to creativity
  • Benny Cater: graceful, light style
  • “Prez” Lester Young: Held sax sideways, light/airy/floating sound


  • Charlie Christian: pioneer of electric (amplified) guitar; long swinging, single note melodic line –> allowed for improv; altered role of guitar
  • Django Reinhardt: acoustic guitar; “hot club” type music, incorporates guitar, violine, accordion, acoustic guitar, reduced drums; played guitar with 2 fingers


  • Bille Holiday: conveyed emotion unlike other vocalists; embellished melodies; iunique interpreations; sang with delayed phrases and cadences (laying back); sang with Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman
  • Ella Fitzgerald: horn feel / swing feel; allows for improvisation
  • Nat King Cole: commercial success; studio orchestra
  • Frank Sinatra: Tommy Dorsey started his career 

Paul Whiteman andHis Orchestra

·       Bucked the trend

·       Big orchestra

·       1920s, Paul Whiteman gave him the nickname “King of Jazz”

·         Sidemen: Bix Beiderbecke, Frankie Trumbaeur, Jack Teagarden, Bing Crosby


Stan Kenton
Pianist; performed to feature sidemen rather than his piano playing
Benny Moten
Pianist, band leader; based in Kansas City, riff based songs,
Count Basie Orchestra

·       Pianist, composer, arranger, band leader

·       Original stride piano style player

·       Led band for about 60 years

·       Impeccable swing feel

·       Relentless tempo and laying back

·       All-american Rhythms Election

·       Freddie Green – rhythm guitar (“Father Time”)

·       Walter Page – bass

·       Jo Jones – drummer, loose feel (Comfy, not stiff)

·       Lighter use of bass drum, not 4 on floor

·      High hat, wire brushes

·       Tenor sax – Lester young


Count Basie Arrangers

  1. Neil Hefti: Part of Old Testament; Lil Darlin
  2. Benny Cater: swing era alto sax player: wrote 1 album entirely: “kansas City Suite”
  3. Frank Foster: most do do with changing Basie sound (Old –> new; complex harmony); biggest contributor to Basie Book
  4. Wild Bill Davis: played in Basie Band as tenor sax soloist
  5. Thad Jones: stretched harmony
  6. Quincy Jones: incorporated Sinatra in 1960s
  7. Billy Byers
  8. Ernie Wilkins: Spans both old testament arrangement and new testament
  9. Sammy Nestico: more published jazz writers

Count Basie Vocalists

o Jimmy Rushing: Part of Old Testament Band; Blues shower – powerful voice; Nickname Mr. Five by Five (fat and short); Very powerful voice; Sang in front of orchestra without microphone

oJoe Williams: Blues vocal tradition but had a different approach than Jimmy Rushing; Had a rich, velvety sounding voice; Perfect diction

Duke Ellington

• Most prolific American composer

• 200 Piano compositions

• As a band leader: Duke Ellington in choosing his sidemen always chose virtuoso musicians

o Different with Ellington in that he chose musicians with distinctive musical styles and personalities

o Most unique personalities

o Used it to foster his own creativity

o Took different personalities and posed it to himself a challenged to write for all of them to blend and for an interesting composition

• Band is the most interesting of the swing bands

oNot most commercially successful though

o Different level of complexity

Jimmie Blanton

Part of Duke Ellington Band

o Significant because first bass player to play solo on the bass

o Blanton-Webster Era when two musicians were in the Ellington band

• Considered to be the best of the Ellington band

Coleman Hawkins
Saxophonists that transformed it to become seductive, big and full
Lester Young as opposed to Coleman Hawkins
Saxophonist; opposite of Coleman Hawkins (gorgeous sound), light airy sound
Joe Jones
Drummer; high hat!; unprecedented energy
Duke Ellington’s Piano Playing

  • Orchestral type playing
  • Played from high to low (extreme)
  • Unusual (dissonant chords)


  • Portraits: describe person/place
  • Tone Poems: European classical
  • Suites: aka extended works, multiple movements
  • Stage Shows: sometimes on TV like with Strayhorn
  • Film Scores (also with strayhorn)

Duke Ellington’s Clarinet Section

Barney Bigard 

Jimmy Hamilton

Ellington’s Trumpet Section


  • Bubber Miley: plunger mute (growling)
  • Cootie Williams: plunger
  • Ray Nance
  • Shorty Baker
  • Rev Stewart
  • Cat Anderson: lead, high notes


Johnny Hodges
Sax player; incorporated pitch inflections; in Duke Ellington’s band; most famous saxophonist
Count Basie’s All American Rhythm Section

Walter Page, bass; Jo Jones, drums; and Freddie Green, guitar


Duke Ellington’s Classic Saxophone Section


  • Legendary one was:
  • Johnny Hodges: lead alto
  • Russell Procope: alto (+Clarinet)
  • Jimmy Hamilton: tenor (+clarinet)
  • Paul Gonzalves: tenor
  • Harry Carney: Baritone (and bass)


Duke Ellington’s Trombone Section

  • Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton: plunger
  • Juan Tizol
  • Lawrence Brown: lead soloist
  • Britt Woodmen

Fred Guy
Guitarist in Duke Ellington’s Band
Jimmy Blanton
Bassist; Part of Blanton-Webster Era of Ellington’s Band; First to improvise on upright bass
Ellington’s Drum Section
Sunny Greer, Sam Woodyard, Luis Belson
Lawrence Brown
Lead trombonist/soloist in Duke Ellington’s band
Drums in Swing Era

  • Drums start to get used; snare drum (European, once used for cadence), bass pedal, “contraption” –> trap set (drum set)

Baby Dodds
Drummer: shimmy beat, bass on every beat; 4 on the floor
Chick Webb

  • Drummer; bass on every beat; more modern snare; aggressive