In 1924, Fletcher Henderson hired a young trumpeter who reinvented his band's rhythmic concept. Henderson might have been thinking of the number Armstrong did on vaudeville nights at the Roseland, home of Henderson’s band. famous dance band of Fletcher Henderson. When Armstrong arrived in New York, he was met by some of the band members, resplendent in bespoke English suits at $110 (more than a month’s wages for most working-class earners), plus spats and expensive shoes. Is there a musical instrument made from a sheep? At the same time, he took the town by storm with dazzling solos.

He changed his name (James was his grandfather’s name, Fletcher Hamilton his father’s) in 1916 when he entered Atlanta University, from which he graduated as a chemistry and math major. -1922- invited to join Oliver's band in Chicago (Lincoln Gardens) -1924- left Oliver (with the encouragement of Lil Hardin), and went to New York at the invitation of Fletcher Henderson Armstrong was allowed to play a cornet solo with just piano accompaniment on a song called “La Veda,” which apparently went over well. In 1920 he moved to New York, intending to work as a chemist while pursuing a graduate degree. After playing in New York, Armstrong returned to Chicago, playing in large orchestras; there he created his most important early recordings. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. He got confident with sightreading the complex scores, which let him expand his musical vocabulary and get high-paying steady jobs with movie house orchestras later on. The band reached new heights of popularity and could be heard everywhere — on radio and touring coast to coast. His name was Louis Armstrong. Today, jazz ensembles around the world still follow his lead. Although Henderson had shown an interest in music from childhood, he knew little about jazz until he was in his 20s. He never worked again and died two years later, in 1952, at the age of 55. . (Regular movie houses had a piano or organ for silent film soundtracks, but movie palaces had plush seats, baroque ornamentation, and a full orchestra.). [19] Lil had her husband play classical music in church concerts to broaden his skill and improve his solo play and she prodded him into wearing more stylish attire to make him look sharp and to better offset his growing girth. In 1921 he took a position as musical factotum for Black Swan records, the first Black-owned recording company, for which he organized small bands to provide backing for such singers as Ethel Waters. For a year Armstrong played in Fletcher Henderson's band in New York on many recordings. (Other arrangers, including Henderson’s brother Horace, also contributed to the big band sound of the 1930s.) .a dancer lifted Armstrong onto his shoulders.

Unfortunately, the laid-back Henderson was never a good businessman: His band lost a number of gigs and eventually disbanded. In later years it was Henderson’s charts which established Benny Goodman’s Orchestra as a genuine jazz band. While on tour accompanying Ethyl Waters, Henderson fell ill. “King Porter Stomp,” “Down South Camp Meetin’,” “Bugle Call Rag,” “Sometimes I’m Happy,” and “Wrappin’ It Up” are among the Henderson arrangements that became Goodman hits. By the time Henderson was in high school, he was an accomplished pianist. Henderson was a superb arranger, but he was a poor businessman. Duke Ellington’s orchestra would go to Roseland to catch Armstrong’s performances and young hornmen around town tried in vain to outplay him, splitting their lips in their attempts. The band was famous in the world of jazz, and musicians flocked to hear Oliver’s and Armstrong’s duets on the cornet.

But listeners know that swing was on the scene well before that - in black music. Despite white bandleader Paul Whiteman’s claims to have put together the first "jazz orchestra" (he employed jazz musicians but did not play true jazz, playing dance music and more ambitious music – including Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue – instead) it was black bandleader Henderson who is credited with the first genuine "big band" jazz orchestra. One of Armstrong's biggest complaints, later in life, was that Henderson refused to let him sing. Omissions? The rhythm section was established as piano, bass, guitar, and drums; and the trumpet, trombone, and reed sections composed the front line. There’s a back, middle, and front of a beat.

It was a night off, when there was a sort of open-mike contest. ", Henderson's orchestra included a brilliant array of musicians, from trumpeters Louis Armstrong and Roy Eldridge to saxophonists Coleman Hawkins and Benny Carter. ), The History of Us® is a registered trademark. hide caption. "They wanted to make the sound bigger and fuller and richer with more colors. Metronome/Getty Images Throughout his riverboat experience, Armstrong's musicianship began to mature and expand. He returned to Chicago in 1925, switched to trumpet, and made jazz history. The band bothered Armstrong, too. He nevertheless managed to keep his band going until the mid-1930s, at which time he sold many of his arrangements to Benny Goodman, who used them to define the sound of his new orchestra. He started singing in his performances. 1932 was also the year Bennie Moten’s band, desperate for work, barged into the Victor studios and persuaded them to record ten tunes—all of them swing. Henderson arranged for Goodman for several years and formed a short-lived band of his own in 1936 that included Roy Eldridge, Chu Berry, John Kirby, and Sid Catlett. After his arrival in 1924, Henderson began incorporating some of that swinging rhythm into his band sound.

It was she who talked him into quitting the Creole Jazz Band and moving to New York to join Fletcher Henderson’s big band. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Armstrong enjoyed working with Oliver, but Louis's second wife, pianist Lil Hardin Armstrong, urged him to seek more prominent billing and develop his newer style away from the influence of Oliver. To his ears, liquor made music worse, and marijuana made it better. "The whole time I was in his band he’d only give me 16 bars to get off with, but he’d let me hit those high notes that the big primadonnas, first-chair men, couldn’t hit.”, Henderson’s strict by-the-notes style had been a challenge at first, but it began to feel like musical prison. Racism starts the swing era with Benny Goodman’s 1935 Palomar concert. Armstrong sang (and acted) “Everybody Loves My Baby” and was a big hit. Once in New York, Henderson abandoned school and took a job playing songs in a music store. With his arrangements, Fletcher Henderson helped give birth to the Swing Era, and his orchestra became a touchstone for all big bands to follow. Don Redman’s sophisticated arrangements did appeal to Armstrong. "My mother and father used to lock him up to practice when he was 6 or 7, and they'd hear noise, then there would be silence and they'd open the door and there would be Fletcher curled up on the floor asleep," Horace Henderson says. At twenty, he could read music.

Henderson was born into a middle-class family; his father was a school principal and his mother a teacher, and he studied piano as a child.

His influence upon Henderson's tenor sax soloist, Coleman Hawkins, can be judged by listening to the records made by the band during this period. He wanted to expand his role and be a featured player and singer with the band, but neither Marable nor Streckfus wanted that. His brother Horace, also a bandleader and arranger, described how his parents stressed practicing. That year Henderson issued “Christopher Columbus,” which became the biggest hit released under his own name. Bandleader, arranger and pianist Fletcher Henderson is one of the most influential — and yet least-known — jazz masters. His name was Louis Armstrong. Armstrong played the forward edge and let the rhythm loosen and bounce, moving away from syncopation and into the propulsion of swing. Together, the two created an innovative and dynamic new concept for big bands.

Henderson went on to compose and arrange music for Benny Goodman and, with Henderson's help, Goodman's career took off; he became known as the "King of Swing." Coleman Hawkins recalls a night at Roseland when the dancers wouldn’t let Armstrong stop soloing on Shanghai Shuffle. Arrangements were constructed in the call-and-response manner (e.g., the brass section “calls,” the reed section “responds”), and many tunes were based upon “riffs,” identifiable musical passages repeated throughout the song. Although he found a part-time laboratory job, he immediately began getting work as a pianist.

Fletcher Henderson must have sold an awful lot of records, because everyone in the whole damn neighborhood was playing Fletcher Henderson's records. After playing in New York, Armstrong returned to Chicago, playing in large orchestras; there he created his most important early recordings. At about the same time, the band’s musical director and alto saxophonist, Don Redman, conceived the arrangements and instrumentation that would become the standard for big bands. While he enjoyed the excitement of New York - and the chorus girls - Armstrong did not remember his time with Henderson as a happy one.