Jazz in the '30s & '40s

The '30s

In the 1930s, swing Jazz was the genre of music that was popular and thriving. It was such a staple during this time period that it was known as the swing area. Swing Jazz had an upbeat rhythm to it and it allows all of the instruments to work together to create a sound rather than one dominant instrument. Swing Jazz uses the same instruments as traditional jazz which includes the trumpet, trombone, drums, and saxophone. Swing Jazz comes from the idea of big bands and that is also where the idea of soloists emerged. One of the biggest elements in swing Jazz was the use of riffs to create a different kinds of rhythms that were put together that made a sound that no one had really heard before. The style and rhythms of swing jazz allowed for it to be great music to dance to and could be heard on the radio and in various clubs at this time.

Important People to Note in Swing Jazz:

  • Teddy Wilson
  • Duke Ellington
  • Benny Goodman, “King of Swing”
Teddy Wilson
Duke Ellington
Benny Goodman

The '40s

In the 1940s, Bebop Jazz became the new thing. Along with fighting the war, African Americans in Harlem were fed up with the fact that white bands were gaining popularity simple because of their race, when in reality the music and sounds were coming from them. Bebop jazz is very similar to swing jazz, however if you thought swing jazz was fast, well bebop jazz was faster and was more focused on harmonizing rather than soloist. Bebop was derived from swing jazz as African American artists began to just improvise with the music and created something with a similar feeling and sound, yet different enough to sound new. It contained the same instruments, but in a much faster tempo that became known as bebop.

Important People to Note in Bebop Jazz:

  • Charlie Parker
  • Thelonious Monk
  • Dizzy Gillespie
  • Kenny Clarke
  • Max Roach
  • Bud Powell
Charlie Parker
Thelonious Monk
Dizzy Gillespie
Kenny Clarke
Max Roach
Bud Powell

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