Fletcher Henderson led the most commercially successful African-American jazz band of the 1920s. His orchestra helped launch the careers of Coleman Hawkins and Louis Armstrong. His unique style helped usher in the 1930s swing era of jazz. During the 30s he joined Benny Goodman’s band as a pianist and arranger. It was the first time an African-American musician was hired to work in a White band. Fletcher arranged several hits like “Sing Sing Sing” during his time with Goodman. Here’s the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra from 1925 performing “Twelfth Street Rag.”
I don’t usually listen to early jazz music and I think that’s a shame because I really like it. I like it even more when I think how completely revolutionary it must have sounded compared to the music that came before it. I was once at a lecture where the speaker said there would never be any more great innovations in either art or music. While I do agree that there’s nothing truly new under the sun right now, I think the rest of human history is much to long to imagine that there will NEVER be anything as revolutionary as jazz was. Of course whenever it comes it’ll be geared towards the young people so I won’t understand it. I just hope I’m around long enough to witness, fear and then condemn it!