Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Birth Of "Swing"...!

Thank goodness for the likes of Benny Goodman!

Just imagine what we would have missed if the musicians like Goodman, the Dorsey's, Glen Miller and so many others had not bucked the system of the times and started playing their own kind of music!

Aug 21, 1935:

The Swing Era begins with Benny Goodman's triumphant Palomar Ballroom performance

The sound of swing, which utterly dominated the American popular-music scene in the late 1930s and early 1940s, instantly evokes images of tuxedo-clad Big Bands and dance floors crowded with exuberant jitterbugs dancing the Shag and the Lindy Hop. While the roots of swing music clearly lie in earlier forms of jazz—and particularly in African-American jazz performance styles—swing as we know it may just have been born at a specific time and in a specific place, with an electric performance by one particular Big Band for one particularly enthusiastic audience. The time and place was August 21, 1935, at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles, California, where Benny Goodman and his band emphatically opened the Swing Era with an exuberant performance witnessed by thousands of young fans in the live audience and millions more tuning in to a live radio broadcast.

Benny Goodman had been a successful featured soloist in various prominent bands and the leader of his own trio and big band for several years before making his breakthrough at Palomar. The ninth of 12 children in a large Jewish family in Chicago, Goodman had been sent by his father at the age of 10 in 1919 to the local synagogue for clarinet lessons in the hopes that a music career might provide him a way out of poverty. By his early teens, Goodman had proven his father correct by becoming a working professional, and by 24, he was successful enough to land his band a regular gig on a weekly radio program broadcast out of New York City called Let's Dance. It was there that Goodman began performing "hot" arrangements by African-American bandleader Fletcher Henderson—arrangements that departed from the more romantic style of the day by employing loose, upbeat, syncopated rhythms that had been common in African-American jazz ensembles for years. Goodman's band would often appear well past midnight, New York time, on Let's Dance. And while this limited their exposure on the East Coast, Goodman would soon discover a huge new fan base when he took his group west to California.

Already familiar with Benny Goodman's exciting new style from his Friday night radio appearances, a huge crowd of young people turned out for his Palomar Ballroom debut on this day in 1935. It was a promising start to an engagement Goodman hoped would salvage a summer tour otherwise judged a failure. But Goodman stuck to relatively staid, stock arrangements during the first part of that night's show, and he began to lose the young crowd. Before their return from the first intermission, the band's drummer, Gene Krupa, is said to have urged Goodman, "If we're gonna die, Benny, let's die playing our own thing." It was at that point that Benny Goodman famously pulled out Henderson's arrangements along with all the stops on his talented orchestra, to the crowd's immense delight.

Now, I don't know about you...but I'm glad that "Swing" came about! I still enjoy listening to it, and I have to admit that it still gets my feet to tapping! In fact, it really makes me want to dance!

C'mon, friends, let's get some coffee on the patio! I'll turn up the radio!


Anonymous said...

I never tire of this music :-)

Never knew the history behind it though, thanks for that info!

Have a great day, this music made my day start perfect :-)


Gorges Smythe said...

Now THAT'S music!

Momlady said...

I love that music. And if you'd like to listen to someone who once played with some of the big boys go to Dharma Cafe and listen to Harry Sheperd play the vibraharp. Harry lives in Houston and plays at the cafe often. He's in his 80's and still going strong!

Dizzy-Dick said...

That music just seems to make the feet move. All I need now is zoot suit.

HermitJim said...

Hey Christer...
Glad you liked it, my friend!

It does make the start of the day a little more lively, doesn't it?

Thanks for coming by this morning!

Hey Gorges...
It really is! I'm glad to know that many out there will appreciate it just as much as I do!

Guess it's true that some things just get better with age!

Many thanks for coming by today!

Hey Momlady...
Somehow I knew that you would like it!

Thanks for the heads-up about the cafe. I'll have to go give it a visit!

Thanks for dropping by today!

Hey DD...
Does sort of put you in the mood to do something crazy, doesn't it?

I really appreciate you coming by today!

SHARON said...

Absolutely my all time favorite music. I think I was born a generation too late. I would love to go back in time to the 30's and 40's.

HermitJim said...

Hey Sharon...
The music from that time was indeed...Great!

Sometimes I have that same feeling about the time we were born in! Guess a lot of folks do!

Thanks so much for coming by today!

linda m said...

Great music! I love Big Band and Swing music. Definitely toe tapping stuff. Thanks for making my day.

Ben in Texas said...

Growing up as a real young kid, Mother always had on the radio and would point out Benny Goodman songs. Fell in love with all the big band era songs. Later in life it was Pete Fountain LIVE at his club in New Orleans.

Probably that music was the biggest influence on me to take up music as my course of study in College, playing clarinet of course. :-)

HermitJim said...

Hey Linda...
Sure does get the juices flowing, doesn't it?

Glad you liked it, and glad you could come by today!

Hey Ben...
That's right! I had forgotten you used to play the clarinet!

Just think! You might have been a member of one of the Big Bands!

Do you still play at all?

Hey, thanks for coming over today!

Felinae said...

Thanks, Uncle Hermit. I love swing/big band music!

Have a great afternoon!

HermitJim said...

Hey Felinae...
Glad you liked it. Bet you and the Catman cut a mean figure on the dancing floor, huh?

I appreciat4e you coming by today!