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The Swing/Big Band Era: 1935-1946

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RonPrice View Drop Down
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    Posted: 27 Jan 2015 at 5:11pm
 I tried to get the colour of the background to this post in such a way as to make my post visible to readers, but could not figure-out how. Apologies! Readers can read the post if they simply highlight the background themselves.-Ron


...one view of the history of jazz

Part 1:


Jazz was a 2000 documentary miniseries, directed by Ken Burns. It was broadcast on PBS in 2001 just after I had retired from a 50 year student-and-employment life, 1949 to 1999. The chronological and thematic episodes of the series provided a history of jazz emphasizing innovative composers and musicians as well as American history.  It was an interpretation of the history of jazz rooted in biography.

I have seen the series twice during the years 2004 to 2014 on television in Tasmania Australia. Jazz has always been on the periphery of my musical experience since the earliest days of my life in the 1940s. This series brought jazz closer to the centre of my life, although I was not waiting for this to occur.

Part 2:


Swing musicians Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington are the central figures in the series.  "They provide the narrative thread around which the stories of other major figures turn"; several episodes discuss the contributions of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie to bebop, and of Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, and John Coltrane to free  and cool jazz.  Nine episodes survey the forty-five period (19171961), leaving the final episode to cover the forty years from 1961 to 2001.  The impact on jazz of racial segregation and drugs is discussed.1  Like all histories of all subjects, there are many ways of writing the story.  Ken Burns and his crew gave viewers one of these ways of dealing with a century of jazz. Many enthusiasts were waiting for Burns' take on jazz knowing, as many did, that Burns is one of the best doco producers.

Part 3:

The swing era, also frequently referred to as the "big band era", was the period of time from about 1935 to 1946.  During this period big band swing music was the most popular music in the United States. Though this was its most popular period, the music had actually been around since the late 1920s and early 1930s, being played by black bands led by such artists as Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford, Bennie MotenCab Calloway, and Fletcher Henderson. There were also the white bands from the 1920s led by the likes of Russ Morgan and Isham Jones. The era's beginning is sometimes dated from Benny Goodman's performance at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles on 21 August 1935 bringing the music, as it did, to the rest of the country.2   By the last half of 1935, millions waited for the next war only four years away.-Ron Price with thanks to 1Wikipedia, and 2Scott Yanow and Paul Du Noyer, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music, first edition, Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing, 2003, p.128.

Part 4:

I could not help but see

the remarkable tie-in, a

synchronization, betwix

the origins, development

of the Baha'i teaching &

administration programs

with the history of jazz

going right back to 1917!1


This was especially true

of Benny Goodman in a

performance at Palomar

in Los Angeles, the same

time as the Baha'is of the

USA and Canada planned

their first systematic Plan

to implement those Tablets

after a hiatus of twenty years,

in the year 1937 and the Plan

went to '44 with two years of

waiting to begin the next Plan.


Those last 40 years to 2001,

the beginning of a new 21st

century, and the opening of

those Terraces on Mt Carmel

just topped that amazing and

wondrous synchronization

beginning in 1917 with the

revelation of those Tablets.1


1 Abdul-Baha completed His writing of the Tablets of the Divine Plan in 1917.  Those Tablets were the foundation document for the Baha'i teaching program organized within and by Baha'i Administration.  It is a program I have now been associated with for more than 60 years.

Ron Price

 30/5/'14 and 2/11/'14.


Edited by RonPrice - 27 Jan 2015 at 5:13pm
married for 48 years, a teacher for 32, a student for 18, a writer and editor for 16, and a Baha'i for 56(in 2015)
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