Swing Your Partner!
Swing/Big Band started to make their mark in the late 1920’s but got extremely popular in the 1930’s and 40’s. This genre of music was quite different from anything previously heard before. It had all of the usual suspects as far as the instruments go, but like folk, the way they were put together and played was different. But different in a very exciting way! That’s the reason for grouping these two genres together. They are similar in style: happy, danceable, and timeless. Swing sometimes tends to have a more danceable rhythm than Big Band - but Big Bad was big with the horns. Swing is like Jazz jacked up on caffeine and not as improvisational. Big Band was just that, a very big band with a lot of different instruments. You also have something called “Big Band Swing”. Before Swing and Big Band, dance music consisted mostly the waltz, polka, and folk barn dance songs. With Swing the dances became more energetic, for example, the Jitterbug and Foxtrot. If you’ve ever seen Swing dancers live, you’ll know how cool these dances are. It can pump you up and make you want to get out there and shake it!
These genres are very easy to identify by their sound. The horns are big, the transitions are smooth-- but they are exciting and loud. The way it’s played is meant to evoke happiness and excitement in the listener. When played live, this genre was often led by a bandleader. They were animated in their movements when conducting the band because the music was too. The music was popular during World War II because of the happy feeling the listener felt when hearing it. It helped the families with loved ones at war cope. Then, when they came home, celebrate! Also, very notable and radical at this time was a movement of younger woman who were called “Flappers”. They wore clothes considered not appropriate for the time, bobbed their hair, drank alcohol, and danced to Swing. If they were born a few decades later, they would have given James Dean a run for his money in the cool category. But they were women in the 30’s, so they didn’t get the respect they deserved for their clearly, very cool ways.
There was a resurgent of Swing music in the 1990’s with some bands who managed to bring the style back in a big way. Some of those bands included Brian Setzer and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. They made it cool again. Although… it you ask me, it never stopped being cool!
If you want to check out some Swing music, some big names of the era were Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Glen Miller, Cab Calloway and a lot more. Let’s go daddy! Give me some of that swing!