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Bebop

II.

Bebop

I. The Demise of Swing


A. World War II

      

1.

the draft - many jazz musicians were called to war, leaving few at home 

      

2.

bands raided each other - with such few musicians left home, band leaders “stole” band members from other bands, offering them a slightly better deal; bands that were in tact before the war were depleted 

      

3.

transportation was difficult (e.g., to night spots outside city limits) 

            

a.

gas shortages (gas rationing) 

            

b.

rubber shortages (tire rationing) 

            

c.

dismantling of the urban and interurban railways 

      

4.

midnight curfews (brown-outs) 

      

5.

20% amusement tax - customers would have to pay 20 cents tax on the dollar in any night club that included dancing 

      

6.

with so few musicians left at home, a good player could make a living without having to travel outside his city 


B. Restrictive musical formats

      

1.

extremely restricted solo opportunities in big band swing (solos had to be short) 

      

2.

overworked harmonic formulae (i.e., the same basic chord progressions were used over and over) 

      

3.

lack of creativity - stereotyped rhythms and rhythm sections 

      

4.

general lack of surprise in any given musical circumstance; jazz had fallen into a rut 

      

5.

by the early 40’s, with the exception of a few, most big bands sounded stylistically alike 


C. Recording ban

   

July, 1942 - November, 1943 

      

1.

in response to increased use of recorded music on the radio and in jukeboxes and the threat this posed to live working musicians, the American Federation of Musicians (i.e., the musicians union) ordered a ban on all instrumental recording by union members 

      

2.

not being able to record new material, many big bands broke up 


D. Racism

   

Inequities between African and European American jazz musicians 

      

1.

African American musicians were usually paid less than their European American counterparts 

      

2.

African Americans had to contend with the most oppressive manifestations of racial prejudice and segregation; even the black jazz stars featured with name white bands were subjected to the most demeaning indignities 

      

3.

in general, most African American jazz musicians became increasingly disenchanted with swing music the more they watched their innovations capitalized on by European Americans; they wanted to create their “own” music, a music that was too difficult, too virtuosic, and too hip for their white counterparts (a music that was not for dancing but for listening--a true African American ART form) 

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