Jazz Dance and Exotic Numbers
This chapter considers some of Chappie Willet's approaches to instrumental dance music; including the framing of solo or ensemble virtuosity, the setting of new melodies over familiar chord progressions, and the stylized representation of performer identity or “exotic” variety. Following historical narratives on big band jazz icons like Count Basie and Duke Ellington, instrumental dance numbers tend to be the swing genre most closely associated with jazz improvisation. But arrangements designed for dancing audiences at venues like the Roseland or Savoy Ballrooms still drew upon many of the same theatrical music signifiers and variety entertainment strategies that marked classics, concertos, or vocal features. And at the same time, in Swing Era variety entertainment, programmatic themes of geographic or cultural exoticism could be represented by individual arrangements or even entire orchestras.
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