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II. Cultural Implications of Bebop

A. World War II


The demise of the Swing Era big bands was, in part, due to World War II.

  1. The draft. Many jazz musicians were called to war, leaving few at home.
  2. Transportation to reach night spots outside city limits was difficult due to gas shortages (gas rationing), tire shortages (rubber rationing), and the dismantling of urban and interurban railways.
  3. Midnight curfews ("brown-outs") 

B. Racism


Racism and segregation were rampant in America during the Swing and Bebop eras. 

C. A True African American Art Form


African American jazz musicians became increasingly disenchanted with swing music the more they watched European Americans capitalize on it. They wanted to create their "own" music, a music that was not for dancing but for listening: a true African American art form.  

D. Reflection of the Culture


Bebop reflected the culture of the times. Like the African American experience at the time, the music:

  1. was difficult
  2. alluded to the blues
  3. explored new directions and uncharted territory
  4. was separate from the mainstream of America

the Herbie Hancock institute of jazz
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