Blue Rhythm Fantasy

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

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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 more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 156 x 235 x 22.86mm | 453.59g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252082265
  • 9780252082269
  • 1,485,943

About John Wriggle

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

Review quote

The unsung artists and business people who were the backbone and lifeblood of the popular music business in NYC in the 1930s and '40s are finally the heroes in this excellent and extremely well-researched book. This exciting new teaching tool brings to the fore those crucial musicians who kept all types of popular entertainment flowing by creatively and professionally combining such diverse job titles as composer, arranger, orchestrator, and copyist.--Benjamin Bierman, author of Listening to Jazz Writers have always been quick to heap praise on the soloists, vocalists and composers of the Swing Era but John Wriggle's Blue Rhythm Fantasy finally shines the spotlight on the craftsmen who really made the Swing Era swing: the arrangers. Having done a monumental amount of research, Wriggle invites the reader to listen to the music of the big bands with a fresh set of ears and a fresh amount of appreciation for many of the unsung heroes of that era, most notably the great Chappie Willet. An important book not just for jazz studies but for anyone interested in the entire popular music spectrum of the 1930s and 40s.--Ricky Riccardi, author of What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong's Later Years and Director of Research Collections, Louis Armstrong House Museumshow more