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The Swing Era

II. Cultural Implications of Swing

A. Great Depression


After the Stock Market Crash of 1929, swing helped the country through the Great Depression, creating escape from economic realities via swing dancing. 

B. Sophistication


Jazz reached new levels of sophistication in the Swing Era as an outgrowth of America’s need for self esteem following the Great Depression. 

C. World War II


Swing served as a major morale booster during World War II. 

D. Race Relations


  1. Perhaps for the first time, it did not matter what color you were, just how well you could play.
  2. In an era when racial integration was not yet accept by American society in general, several important swing bands featured racial integration.
  3. The first important interracial groups were The Benny Goodman Trio, Quartet, Sextet, and Big Band, all of which were formed in 1935 (prior to this time, jazz groups were either all white or all black).

E. Harlem Renaissance


Swing, and especially Duke Ellington’s music of the early 1930s, was the musical backdrop during the later years of the Harlem Renaissance. 

F. American Symbol


Jazz was (and remains) a symbol of urban American energy, optimism, and resilience. 

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