Benny Goodman known to have started the swing craze with his 3 week engagement at the Palomar Ballroom, in Los Angeles August 1935, while starting with playing stock arrangements for the first set with mild success, according to Willard Alexander Goodmans booking agent, Gene Krupa suggested to Goodman,(If we’re going to die Benny then lets die playing our own music) their second set included the arrangements of Fletcher Henderson and Spud Murphy.
The crowd went crazy breaking into cheers and applause and dancing wildly. News reports spread rapidly of the enthusiastic dancing and exciting new music that was happening. During the 3 week engagement, the “Jitterbug” began to appear as a new dance craze, and radio broadcasts carried the band’s performances across the nation.The Palomar engagement was a tremendous success and it is often exaggeratedly described as the beginning of the swing era. The Swing Era had been waiting to happen, but it was Goodman and his band that started it all.
The “Very Best of Benny Goodman” is a good recording to start to discover his music.
William Henry Webb, known as Chick Webb born in Baltimore, Maryland (February 10, 1905 – June 16, 1939) was a jazz and swing music drummer as well as a band leader. Of note, Chick’s Orchestra became the house band at the Savoy Ballroom in 1931. The Savoy often featured “The Battle of the Bands” where Webb’s band would go up against the Benny Goodman and Count Basie Orchestra’s and by the end of the night usually Webb’s group would be the favorite. As a result Chick Webb was named the first “King of Swing”. Chick Webb’s style influenced many drummers to come including Buddy Rich. A little trivia: Webb’s style was so explosive that they would have to nail his bass drum to the stage floor to keep in place. Happy Birthday to one of the greatest drummers…Chick Webb!!
Coleman Hawkins considered the first important tenor sax player. He is strongly associated with swing , big band and was influencial in the bebop and avant guarde era. Many tenor men and horn players to come would try to emulate his mood and style of playing. Miles Davis was quoted as saying “when I heard Hawk I learned to play ballads”. His 1939 jazz recording of the pop standard of Body and Soul featuring him improvising almost the whole song except for the first four bars. A definate evolutionary step in the jazz world. He also was the leader of the first ever bebop recording session with Dizzy Gillespie, and Max Roach in 1943. Known for his adaptable playing style he had no problems communicating with younger players. In the late 50’s he was considered a “has been” when he recorded with Roy Eldridge and John Coltrane. Lester Young known as “The Prez” said that Coleman was the first “Prez” and I was the second.
Coleman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster is a favorite of mine.