The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

Its Nature, Instruments, Sources, Sounds, Development & Performers

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The Big Bands                                                                         181
the blues and boogie woogie, as did Harlan Leonard, an ex-Moten saxophonist from Kansas City, whose band achieved some slight prominence in the east in 1940.
Glen Gray's Casa Loma orchestra, an outgrowth of the Orange Blossom band, a 10-piece group that played at the Casa Loma Hotel in Toronto in 1928, was a great favorite with college audi­ences during the early 1930s and is credited by some as having been the first white band with a deliberate jazz policy. Neverthe­less the arrangements were as relaxed as a freshly starched shirt; many of them were built on riffs so simple that they seemed to call for nothing more than a knowledge of the member notes of a few triads and scales. This was the band whose arranger, Gene Gifford (composer of Black Jazz, White Jazz, Maniac's Ball and Casa Loma Stomp) was popular among some of the best Negro bands of the early swing years and was responsible for the stiff­ness in some of their performances.
More important to jazz was the Dorsey Brothers* orchestra, which leaned mostly on Glenn Miller arrangements of popular songs, novelties and some jazz items, and which enjoyed some popularity in 1934-5; still more meaningful was the Benny Good­man band, which reversed the Casa Loma-Gene Gifford proce­dure by implanting the styles of Negro arrangers on a white band. Fletcher Henderson was the principal arranger for the Goodman orchestra, which attempted, in effect, to bring down­town the spirit of Harlem's Savoy Ballroom. The simple, swing­ing antiphony of the reed and brass sections and the smooth-flowing four-four of the rhythm section gave America a new kind of music, suitable for the utilitarian purposes it had to serve in ballrooms at the onset of the era of jitterbug dancing, but no less attractive to musicians and jazz fans who found special delight in following the solo flights of Goodman and his stardom-bound apprentices—in the early years they included Bunny Berigan or Harry James on trumpet, Vido Musso on tenor sax, Jess Stacy on piano and Gene Krupa on drums.
During the first years of the Goodman gold rush, the two lead­ing Negro orchestras of the 1930s were beginning to attract national attention: Jimmie Lunceford, whose peak years ran from 1934 to '39, and Count Basie, who began to record with his