The Modernization of Jazz

The Swing Revolution

The 1920’s were quite important years in the history of jazz music. During that time, Louis Armstrong invented a unique brand of jazz, called swing. Furthermore, he inspired an era of soloist jazz singers and musicians. Without a doubt, Armstrong is the most influential jazz musician in history.

It was a break from the traditional “hot jazz,” which black musicians learned by ear. What made it even more compelling is the blend of blues, New Orleans, and unheard of textures. Such structure never existed in jazz before Armstrong came along.

The Age of Orchestral Jazz

Orchestral jazz emerged in the 1920’s with Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington. Henderson was the first to put a full jazz orchestra together. He added new instruments and techniques to jazz music with the help of Don Redman.

Duke Ellington renewed orchestral jazz by adding some elements that weren’t there before. He explores the unchartered territories of jazz compositions and arrangements including dance songs, club music, and ballads. Ellington experimented with unusual brass and reeds and combined musical instruments.

In its early days, the audience didn’t understand orchestral jazz due to competition from white bands and prevalence of swing. However, orchestral jazz didn’t catch fire until the 1960’s with worldwide tours.

The Ushers of Modern Jazz

In the first few years of 1930’s, two bands made jazz history: Moten and Casa Loma Orchestra. The influence wasn’t immediately evident. The bombastic, energetic, and rhythmic jazz music made by the Moten band made a wave. Orchestral jazz was changed forever thanks to the mixture of revolutionary instrumental virtuosity and the outstanding balance of solos.

The Casa Loma Orchestra was the first white band to try a swing, to introduce jazz instrumentals and influenced many bands including black musicians.

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