Big Band Magic!
About the Program
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It didn't mean a thing if it didn't have that swing. That was the musical rule of the day during the 1930s and 1940s, when the Big Bands reigned supreme. The Swing Era had everything: a look, a sound and, mostly, a feel. And it all combined to jump-start popular culture during the Great Depression, to kick the country back into gear after the Depression and to bolster morale during the Second World War.

Big Bands, led by the likes of Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, and Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, and vocalists such as Kay Kyser, Vaughan Monroe and the Andrews Sisters created a musical scene and subculture that dominated the airwaves and dance halls. Jaunty, jumpy dance beats, thumping drums, blasting horn sections, smooth vocal groups and intrepid soloists all churned out songs that were, by turns, storming dance-floor workouts and dreamy romantic interludes.

The song titles said it all -- "Let's Dance," "In the Mood," "Boogie Woogie," "On the Sunny Side of the Street" -- expressing the youthful high spirits, optimism and exuberance that were at the core of the Swing scene. For that was what the era was all about: young people getting out and about, in fast, shiny cars, at dance halls and clubs, dressed to the nines, falling in love, chewing gum, drinking, smoking -- and dancing, dancing, dancing to bands that were a brash and daring break from the past.

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