Uncrowned King of Swing: Fletcher Henderson and Big Band Jazz

Uncrowned King of Swing: Fletcher Henderson and Big Band Jazz by Jeffrey Magee
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If Benny Goodman was the King of Swing, then Fletcher Henderson was the power behind the throne. Now Jeffrey Magee offers a fascinating account of Hendersons musical career, throwing new light on the emergence of modern jazz and the world that created it. Drawing on an unprecedented combination of sources, including sound recordings and hundreds of scores that have been available only since Goodmans death, Magee illuminates Hendersons musical output, from his early work as a New York bandleader, to his pivotal role in building the Kingdom of Swing. He shows how Henderson, standing at the forefront of the New York jazz scene during the 1920s and 30s, assembled the eras best musicians, simultaneously preserving jazzs distinctiveness and performing popular dance music that reached a wide audience. Magee reveals how, in Hendersons largely segregated musical world, black and white musicians worked together to establish jazz, how Hendersons style rose out of collaborations with many key players, how these players deftly combined improvised and written music, and how their work negotiated artistic and commercial impulses. Whether placing Hendersons life in the context of the Harlem Renaissance or describing how the savvy use of network radio made the Henderson-Goodman style a national standard, Jeffrey Magee brings to life a monumental musician who helped to shape an era. An invaluable survey of Hendersons life and music. --Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times Magee has written an important book, illuminating an era too often reduced to its most familiar names. Goodman might have been the King of Swing, but Henderson here emerges as that kingdoms chief architect. --Boston Globe Excellent.... Jazz fans have waited 30 years for a trained musicologist...to evaluate Hendersons strengths and weaknesses and attempt to place him in the history of American music. --Will Friedwald, New York Sun
Publication Date:
23 / 11 / 2004

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