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

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The Composers and Arrangers                                                 199
more pretentious offerings of Paul Whiteman, the self-styled "King of Jazz," or of Gene Gifford, arranger for the popular Casa Loma orchestra during its years of peak acceptance by the college students of the early 1930s. Gilford's scores, built on interminable repetitions, symmetrical and plain as a brick wall, had the subt­lety, inspiration and shading of a West Point drill; yet much of this type of writing passed for jazz while the contributions of the arrangers who worked on a broader melodic and harmonic canvas went almost unobserved.
In the latter group were Benny Carter and Edgar Sampson, two saxophonists (Garter with his own band and Sampson with Chick Webb's) who, though both contributed to the library of the Benny Goodman band, remained virtually in obscurity throughout the swing pandemonium. Both were equipped to lend form and substance to a ballad, and to blend an attractive melody with a swing-conscious beat on faster instrumental numbers. Carter was most admired for his scoring for saxophone sections: a passage in his recording of his own composition Lonesome Nights in 1933, recorded again the following year by Benny Goodman under the title Take My Word, can be offered today as an undated and completely charming example of voicing for four saxophones. Sampson was more closely identified with up-tempo instrumentals, in which reeds and brass were employed in chant-and-response fashion along Henderson lines. Stompin' at the Savoy and Dont Be That Way illustrated his gift for investing melodically simple themes with a sweep and lift in which even the repetitions never became trite.
Certainly the arranger of that period whose impact was the firmest and longest of duration was Sy Oliver, key writer for the Lunceford band during its optimum years (1934-9) and later for Tommy Dorsey. Oliver s technique was a brittle, brusque one in which sharp-edge staccato brass passages would give away un­expectedly to an interval by low, mellow reeds, rhythm section pauses would punctuate the theme for humorous effects and the whole score would convey the sense of a tightly-knit unit, often building to a tense and compelling climax. The Oliver style, the determining factor in the Lunceford band s personality, was in