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The following tape recorded program is a presentation of the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the 1980 series of programs on the roots of jazz in the United States. On this program we hear the music of swing in small groups from big orchestras.
In 1936 he read no other and his wife Mildred Bailey threw a party that had a lasting effect which they hadn't dreamed. Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson would guess at this party. And so was a young cousin of Mildred's who played the drums. As musicians like to do. They organized an informal session following Mildred's suggestion that Benny and Teddy would play with her drummer cousin. The musicians like the combination of instruments so much that soon after they substituted Gene Krupa for Mildred's cousin and they became the Benny Goodman trio later quartet. When that tension.
For the next five years New York City produced a plethora of trios quartets quintets and sex drugs. These groups worked either for recording studios or for nightclubs. A considerable number of the larger swing orchestras of the late 30s produced from their ranks small groups of various character Tommy Dorsey had his Clambake seven on the shore his gravity five Count Basie his rhythm group and Bob Crosby his Bobcats. These small combos are the direct descendants of the jazz of the 20s from New Orleans with Louis Armstrong in his heart five to Chicago with Bix and his gang from 1929 until 36. The small groups that had been heard in and around New York City were playing music for their own pleasure. The demand was for dance orchestras. The freewheeling small group of improvising jazz man was either extinct or never recorded for almost five years in the early 30s. This does
not mean that the musicians didn't prefer this kind of performance. They just didn't realize its potentiality as a relief from the oversized over arranged over musician or the nature of the large swing aggregates. Benny Goodman writing in his book The Kingdom of swing expressed his love of the small group this way. What I got out of playing with Teddy was something in a jazz way like what I got from playing with the string quartet in Mozart. It was something different than playing with the band no matter how well it might be swinging. Because here everything was close and intimate with one fellow's ideas blending right in with the others and each of us getting a lift from what the other fellow was doing. Betty's appreciation of Teddy Wilson as a jazz pianist was high. And he worked out an arrangement whereby the two men could record alternately for Brunswick and Victor. One of the most outstanding groups of vocal and instrumental jazz resulted from this
arrangement here. Benny tells about it as Teddy had a contract with Brunswick to make records under his own name. We fixed it up so that I should make one side with him for each one he made with me. Later in this same week I went up to their studios on a date with Teddy and Billie Holiday who sang some swell vocals on. I wished on the moon what a little moonlight can do and Miss Brown do you with a good little band that included Roy Eldridge John true heart on guitar John Kirby on bass goes a call on drums and Ben Webster on tenor.
Yeah I am. Yeah.
There were other negroes performing in small bands in the late 30s. Here is Count Basie and his rhythm section. Count Basie in 1935 took over the band of Bennie Moten and brought it to New York City and he is supposed to have made this comment. I have a terrific ambition to build a rhythm section that will stand out above all others. Then we'll make a series of recordings that will really rock these recordings. When they were finally released showed us how close a time to the
20s and early times these small groups maintain for the music was in the form of the blues.
From the day Benny Goodman and Jimmy McPartland left the Ben Pollock office struck that group slowly disintegrated until finally Ben left New York City for a tour of the country. A man with a magic last name took over the remnants of Pollux orchestra a man named Bob Crosby. This band was to add another chapter to the link between the priest wing days and the later 30s. Everything was slowly shaping up for the revival of The Roots music of jazz New Orleans style. Here is what Rex Harris says about the Crosby back to Bob Crosby a younger brother of Bing Crosby must go much of the credit for reviving the Dixie line style. It was wind patterns and staccato rhythms became like a breath of clean air through the unhealthy corridors of music which had begun by this time to rely on the physical attractions of feminine crooners to bolster up its repetition in the Bob Crosby orchestra.
There was a small group called the Bobcats. They more than any other combo showed the influence of the 20s. Here they play. I hear you talk. Let it. Go.
I am. I am. I am. I am. I am. I am. I am. I am. I am. I am. I am. And from Bob Crosby on the small combo music of jazz was to increase in Variety. The Benny Goodman duo trio
quartet would have set a style of professional musicianship which was to continue into the 40s. The Count Basie rhythm section was to stimulate countless rhythm trios in which the piano was to play a featured role and amidst all of this activity our economic condition was soon to improve to a point where many nightclubs supper clubs afternoon clubs flourished giving jobs to a great many of the small groups in the late thirties and early forties swaying was still a commercial success. But new forms were on the horizon. This is the music of John Kennedy and his small office truck. They were all expert technicians. They did not play from a range to schoolboys but they
performed with an accuracy and a sense of fitness a suavity which belied their freedom. John Kennedy sometimes bowed sometimes slapped his base. Johnny Shaver is a powerful trumpet it always played with a mute. And so as to more completely blend with the clarinet and saxophone the giant like Buster Bailey is huge yet beautifully motivated and the short almost ridiculously small clarinet. His size dwarfed his instrument. But his music. Waft his stature. He played the blues. His clarinet more than made up and feeling and subtlety of expression. What he lacked in technical that you are sitting at the Benny Goodman like. Rush with his own tiny sense of a melodic idea of whatever links. That always possessed completeness. And the always even
genius. Almost half joking ideas of Billy Kyles piano backed up by the incessant rhythms of spun through here was music that no one had heard before. God.
John Kirby's orchestra more than any other presaged by 15 years the age of the age of Dave Brubeck and Lenny Tristan of his flow gently sweet rhythm group became national favorites with their own radio network program. Jazz had not died in 1930. It had gone underground in the late 30s. After several years of incubation and the popularizing effect of swing jazz emerged in greater variety originality and life than ever before. There was the swing of Benny Goodman.
That Count Basie rhythm section with the blues. Bob Crosby and his bobcat with the beginnings of a revival.
Yeah. Yeah. There was a wall in Europe in 1939 and by 1941 we would be in the influence of Kirby went out with the wall not to return until the 50s when premature ideas with regard to the few and counterpoint would be carried to successful completion by man such as my Tristan and Dave Brubeck. But in those two years between 1939 in 1941 the music of the Bobcat's from Bob Crosby the orchestra blossomed into a renaissance of Dixieland the last chapter of jazz in the
30s. It is the chapter written by Sidney and his New Orleans foot warmers and Mugsy Spanier and others who followed in their footsteps to produce the finishing touches on Dixie Land of music. Swing all but disappeared. A. The age of swing with the beginning of the second. It had accomplished much. But there was more and better on the. Head.
This has been the 19 in a series of programs on the roots of jazz in the United States. Next week's program brings the music of Muggsy Spanier and Sydney to share. The roots of jazz is written and produced by Norman Cleary. Dick Vogel is the song technician rate easy as the reader. This is Norman Cleary speaking.
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Roots of jazz
Swing in small groups from big orchestras
Producing Organization
Iowa State University
WOI (Radio station : Ames, Iowa)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
Swing in Small Groups from Big Orchestras
Other Description
Music-documentary series in 26 parts, covering various aspects of jazz.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Director: Cleary, Norman
Engineer: Vogel, Dick
Host: Clark, Kenneth Bancroft, 1914-2005
Performer: Basie, Count, 1904-1984.
Producing Organization: Iowa State University
Producing Organization: WOI (Radio station : Ames, Iowa)
Speaker: Geesy, Ray
Writer: Cleary, Norman
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 56-24-19 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:08
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Chicago: “Roots of jazz; Swing in small groups from big orchestras,” 1956-11-04, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 12, 2022,
MLA: “Roots of jazz; Swing in small groups from big orchestras.” 1956-11-04. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 12, 2022. <>.
APA: Roots of jazz; Swing in small groups from big orchestras. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from