Anyone who’s listened to Chris Botti, Chuck Mangione, Tom Scott, Earl Klugh and David Benoit know just how powerful Jazz Soloists are. Sure, it often takes an entire band to make beautiful music but in the case of these performers, its more desirable than it is absolute. Often than not, its the frontman’s sheer talent that carries the entire music. In many cases, the accompaniment simply evolves around the skill of the artist. The result is beautiful music enough to give us goosebumps.
The Jazz Soloist did not always have the spotlight though. There was a time in Jazz’ history when a solo was unheard of and considered poor taste. Enter the age of the Big Band where performers relied heavily on compositions and strophic arrangements. Rightfully so since Big Band compositions were originally intended as dance music – hence the Swing Era.
The King of Swing is of course the Band Leader. Musical styles of the Big Band evolved around their personality. For example, Count Basie presented a more relaxed style, Benny Goodman had a hard driving approach and Duke Ellington made more sophisticated compositions and arrangements. As the music became more complex, there grew a need for talented instrumentalists to perform the intricate and varied arrangements.
One such gifted instrumentalist is the great Satchmo (Louis Armstrong). Having started in a Big Band, Armstrong was later renowned for his inventive trumpet playing style, bending the lyrics and melody of a song to add an expressive layer to the music. The result is a more personal, emotion filled jazz that captured the hearts of aficionados. This inventive style later became known as improvisation and was embraced by great instrumentalists like Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan and Stan Getz.
The albums pictured here; “Together For The First Time” and “The Great Reunion”, also collectively known as “The Great Summit” are compilations of tracks recorded by Duke Ellington, the icon of the Swing Era and Louis Armstrong, the Father of Improvisation. These albums, symbolic, as they signal the transition from swing to solo. The result is beautiful music highlighting the genius of both for the benefit of all.
Check out LetsGroove Jazz Big Bop playlist on Spotify at https://open.spotify.com/user/letsgrooveph/playlist/2cwRcALfvMJ62CI5mbyyv3. We compiled songs from the Swing to Bop era and the artists include, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker and Dizzie Gillespie. Its a great playlist to get started on Swing and Bebop. Hope you enjoy it.