We will be posting the recent episodes of Jazz at 100 which aired on KJEM over the holidays. Here are the two hours that aired on December 21.
Emerging from the Jay McShann Orchestra from Kansas City and relentlessly curious about how to play the new music he heard in his head, Charlie Parker found sympathetic players in New York, especially Dizzy Gillespie. In November of 1945, Bird, as he was universally known, began to record with his own quintets and sextets in a legendary series of recordings for Dial in Hollywood and Savoy in Newark. By the end of 1948, when he began to record for Normal Granz and his Clef, Mercury and Verve labels, Bird’s reputation was forever secure.
Dizzy Gillespie grew up professionally playing in the big bands of Teddy Hill, Cab Calloway, Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine and writing for Woody Herman and Jimmy Dorsey. The wartime economy with its shortages and the musician’s strike of the early 1940s led Gillespie to focus on small combos for his own projects, including his seminal collaborations with Charlie Parker in 1945 – 1946. However Dizzy returned whenever he could to the big band format and by mid-1946, he was fronting the first of several financially challenging but musically groundbreaking big bands.
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We will be posting the recent episodes of Jazz at 100 which aired on KJEM over the holidays. Here are the two hours that aired on December 14.
“Because its loose, improvisatory format offers an obvious point of contrast to the swing styles that preceded it, bebop is often represented by jazz historians as a conscious revolt against the tightly controlled commercial environment offered by the swing bands of the 1930s and 1940s. Yet it is not at all apparent that during the formative years of bebop its inventors felt alienated from the large swing bands. [Charlie] Parker, [Dizzy] Gillespie and many others continued to work with large dance orchestras during the war years; and from 1945 onward, Gillespie made it a point to present his music in a big band format whenever feasible. It makes more sense to see bebop as deriving from a musical environment that was very much a part of the musical culture of the swing era, even if largely invisible to the casual fan: the jam session.” – Scott DeVeaux
Some of the same forces that launched Bebop as a break from Big Band Swing, also fueled the birth of Rhythm and Blues – the rise of independent labels in the wake of the recording ban of 1942 – 1944, the economic infeasibility of touring with 16-member orchestras, the decline of dance halls in the aftermath of the war, and the rise of juke boxes and radio as primary entertainment media. Bebop and R&B also shared the big bands as a common pool of musicians who used that platform to explore the harmonically-rich alternative to swing in bebop and the rhythmically propelled alternative in R&B.
We will be posting the recent episodes of Jazz at 100 which aired on KJEM over the holidays. Here are the first two which aired on the 7th of December.
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the very dance-oriented swinging music of the Big Bands was the most popular music around. Never had jazz been more central to mass culture. Just over the horizon were the draft of 1940 that eventually conscripted 10 million men, making it increasingly difficult to field top notch bands.
But in the late 1930s, it seemed like the swinging would never end.
Although Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Woody Herman soldiered on, mostly keeping bands on the road into the 1970s (Ellington) and 1980s (Basie and Herman), the era of the big band effectively ended with the AFM strike and World War Two shortages of gas, rubber and players. A leaner combo-oriented music emerged in night clubs after the war. Several band leaders sought to find common ground with the new music and the big band format, but as dance halls faded, the economics of the large ensemble no longer worked.