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New York in the 1920s

This chapter turns to New York City, the center of the music business and the focus for jazz once it grew beyond New Orleans and became a larger commercial enterprise. We discuss the overall structure of the music business in the 1920s; early white “big bands” (Paul Whiteman) and the attempts to appropriate jazz as art music (e.g., Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue); the beginnings of black dance bands (Fletcher Henderson); the songwriting business (Tin Pan Alley), musical theater (Broadway), and the Harlem Renaissance; the stride piano tradition (James P. Johnson); and the Cotton Club, with its most famous composer, Duke Ellington.

  • Paul Whiteman, Changes
  • Fletcher Henderson, Copenhagen
  • James P. Johnson, You’ve Got to Be Modernistic
  • Duke Ellington, Black and Tan Fantasy

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