Jazz at 100 Hour 21: The Swing Era

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In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the very dance-oriented swinging music of the Big Bands was the most popular music around. Never had jazz been more central to mass culture. Just over the horizon were the draft of 1940 that eventually conscripted 10 million men, making it increasingly difficult to field top notch bands; war shortages of gasoline and shellac limiting both touring and recording; the economic infeasibility of touring with 16-member orchestras; the musicians strike and recording ban of 1942 – 1944 and the resulting decline in the major labels and the rise of independent labels; the decline of dance halls in the aftermath of the war; and the rise of juke boxes and radio as primary entertainment media. But in the late 1930s, it seemed like the swinging would never end.

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