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Posted by Judie Langford on Jan 28, 2014 in Entertainment And Media

What Sets Big Band Swing Artists Apart

What Sets Big Band Swing Artists Apart

6510326_lAs jazz grew into its own in the early 20th century, this heart-tugging, toe-tapping and often soulful sound morphed in a direction that demanded multiple musicians to truly bring it to life. Big band swing artists employed woodwind, brass and rhythm instruments along with vocals to get people out of their seats, up and dancing.

While orchestras were nothing new on the musical scene, the direction big band swing artists took music was something different entirely. Ensemble groups of the big band era’s golden age tended to include 12 to 25 different musicians, playing a variety of instruments. Although bands could feature a variety of configurations, trumpets, trombones, drums, piano, saxophones and even the guitar were commonly found along with vocalists.

Big band swing artists found themselves a hot commodity during the days of World War I and World War II when Americans desperately sought lively entertainment to take their minds off the horrors of the day. This style gave birth to such musical legends as Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. It also saw the rise of Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and others.

Big band swing artists were popular the world over courtesy of the American USO, which arranged for notable band leaders and their ensembles to travel to provide respite to the troops at the fronts. This lifestyle, however, took its toll on big band swing artists who often found themselves in dangerous terrain. Legendary orchestra leader Glenn Miller died while traveling to entertain American troops in France during World War II. Famed for such recordings as “Moonlight Serenade” and “In the Mood,” Miller’s plane was lost over the English Channel.

Modern Big Band Sounds

While the heyday for big band swing artists passed following the great wars, the bold sounds only a carefully balanced orchestra can create still remain. The style has persisted and even transformed to include other distinct branches such as Afro-Cuban and Brazilian. The swing style remains popular in modern times as evidenced by the Lindy Hop and the rise of the Jazz at Lincoln Center orchestra, among other sensations.

Big band swing artists of the past helped deliver the jazz style of music to generations. Modern artists continue to push at the boundaries, offering their own distinct sounds to the tapestry of musical history.

Big band swing artists provided the soundtrack for America’s war generations. Find out more about jazz in the modern age by visiting our website at www.sylviabrooks.net .