The Swing Era of Jazz


Jazz was an important part of African American music in the twienth century. Many would describe Jazz as “African American classical music.” An era of Jazz is swing music. This post will describe what ‘Swing’ is, women in swing, and it will showcase videos is it. 

The premise of Swing

Swing is a big band jazz style that was developed in the 1930’s that highlighted the use of horn riffs and a rhythmic drive. i.e. the boogie woogie bass line. Because swing was primarily a big band style it influenced a lot of younger musicians and served as a training ground for them. They improved their music reading skills, ensemble skills, composing skills, and they understood harmony more. An indicator of swing music is its extensive use of riffs and its artful use of repetition.

Women in swing

During and before World War II, successful all-women swing bands were prominent.   Some successful female bands were International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Phil Spitalny’s House of Charm, and Darlings of Rhythm. This granted women ensembles the opportunity to perform professionally. This was at a time when participation by women in both big bands and small groups were rare. Among some of the most reputed players were trumpeters Jean Ray Lee, Thelma Lewis, Tiny Davis, and saxophonists Roz Cron and Josephine Boyd. A few women succeeded as instrumentalists during the swing years. This includes pianist Mary Lou Williams and Marjorie Hyams.

Women artists during the Swing Era

The international sweethearts of rhythm

Ella Fitzgerald

Billie Holiday


In conclusion Swing music was a unique style of Jazz. Overall in the swing era women dominated and it gave them a voice and a chance to shine. The swing era was a unique style of jazz that influenced the jazz genre forever.

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