Pub. Date:
University of Illinois Press
Blue Rhythm Fantasy: Big Band Jazz Arranging in the Swing Era

Blue Rhythm Fantasy: Big Band Jazz Arranging in the Swing Era

by John Wriggle


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Behind the iconic jazz orchestras, vocalists, and stage productions of the Swing Era lay the talents of popular music's unsung heroes: the arrangers. John Wriggle takes you behind the scenes of New York City's vibrant entertainment industry of the 1930s and 1940s to uncover the lives and work of jazz arrangers, both black and white, who left an indelible mark on American music and culture. Blue Rhythm Fantasy traces the extraordinary career of arranger Chappie Willet--a collaborator of Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Gene Krupa, and many others--to revisit legendary Swing Era venues and performers from Harlem to Times Square. Wriggle's insightful music analyses of big band arranging techniques explore representations of cultural modernism, discourses on art and commercialism, conceptions of race and cultural identity, music industry marketing strategies, and stage entertainment variety genres. Drawing on archives, obscure recordings, untapped sources in the African American press, and interviews with participants, Blue Rhythm Fantasy is a long-overdue study of the arranger during this dynamic era of American music history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780252082269
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Publication date: 08/01/2016
Series: Music in American Life Series
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

John Wriggle is a musicologist, composer, arranger, and trombonist. He has taught for the City University of New York, Rutgers University, and Boston University.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Business and Politics: The Landscape 15

2 Ace Race Arranger: The Broadway Music Clinic 30

3 Harlem on Broadway: Nightclub and Theater Revues 43

4 Theory and Practice: The Fundamentals 63

5 Episode and Interlude: Broadway Modernism 88

6 Futuristic Ragtime: Style and Identity 104

7 Heavy Stuff: Classics and Concertos 127

8 Give Me Some Skin: Novelty Songs and Ballads 149

9 Jungle Madness: jazz Dance and Exotic Numbers 170

Conclusion 192

Acknowledgments and Credits 199

Appendix: The Music of Chappie Willet 205

List of Abbreviations 219

Notes 221

Bibliography 273

Index 289

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