Big Book of Swing by Bill Treadwell

ForSale on Ebay The Big Book of Swing

I’d call this a book about “White Jazz” because there was a split in jazz. I don’t know jazz history, but Paul Whiteman and his orchestra took jazz and modified it, making it more orchestral. This eventually led to swing jazz.  They called him the “king of Jazz”.  I have admit, I thought that sounded a lot like “the king” as in Elvis Presley, another white guy who made a career from appreciating and copying, maybe appropriating, Black music, and selling it to white audiences.

That’s not to dis this book. It has a lot of information about Black artists. How could a jazz book not? It’s just odd to put Ozzy and Harriet on the same plane as even Dinah Washington.  Or even Glen Miller and the Dorsey brothers, for that matter.

The 1990s Swing Revival

Now, jumping back. Swing jazz is not what the Brian Setzer Orchestra played. The 1990s “swing” revival sounded a lot more like 1950s Rhythm and Blues and Rock and Roll.  I don’t think most people know swing.  Listen to A-Train by Billy Strayhorn, a song everyone knows, and considered both jazz and swing. Most swing jazz was less rhythmic and less “rockin” than A-Train.  Swing jazz was more like what we’d call “easy listening”. Listen to Opus One by Tommy Dorsey, another well known song.

Meanwhile, Black Jazz was more like Night in Tunisia by Dizzy Gillespie. That’s the 1940s!  Which sounds more like the rockers who revived “swing” in the 1990s?  It’s the Black Jazz because it’s closer to the blues.  The white rockers reviving swing in the 1990s were rewriting history, making swing jazz sounds a lot less boring than what it had become.

Like I said, I’m a jazz history ignoramus, and these are only three examples, and all of them are famous songs. I just think

it’s plain to see what happened.

Maybe if this book doesn’t sell soon, I’ll photograph the article about Paul Whiteman and post it here.

Anyway, whatever. It’s still an interesting book. I saw a Paul Whiteman book in the hoard somewhere, and will probably lot them both up.

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