Classics and Concertos
This chapter describes a genre-based variety in Swing Era music programs, where commercial and artistic success depended on a musical fluency across a range of genres; including classics, jazz concertos, novelty songs, vocal ballads, jazz dance instrumentals, and exotic numbers. It provides case studies exploring the communicative power behind these negotiations of genre, performer identity, and arranging style. In addition to the celebration of artistic versatility, Chappie Willet's legacy as a commercially successful black musician working in a segregated entertainment industry that often invoked racialized conceptions of style and creativity suggests additional motivations behind some of these Swing Era arranging strategies. His work for the Jimmie Lunceford orchestra offers an example of “jazzing the classics” that highlights some of the commercial, political, and artistic forces at work behind these hybrid creations.
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