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Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra - Sing, Sing, Sing (1927)


With the advent of big bands, jazz entered a new phase of rational evolution and it is remarkable that this occurred so early on in the development of jazz. In 1923 Fletcher Henderson started his first big band in New York. The drummer Jo Jones: 'Hatcher Henderson had a wonderful dance band, because he was a competent musician. Before Henderson, jazz musicians just picked up horns and played. Henderson put class into jazz music, because his musicians were hired on their ability to play music. His bands largely led to jazz as we have it now.' the big bands developed out of smaller jazz ensembles. To establish themselves permanently, a change from the linear playing of earlier jazz to harmonic thinking was necessary. The choir like set up of the horn players demanded arrangement and an organisation of musicians who had learned to read music. Fletcher Henderson's big bonds were therefore the last step from a folky off-hand playing style by semi-professionals, to a thoroughly composed style for professional musicians (who were guaranteed the freedom to improvise during their solos).