Originating in Kansas City and Harlem in the late 1920s and becoming a national craze, swing was marked by the substitution of orchestration for improvisation and a rhythm that falls between the beats. The average big band had about 15 members (five reeds, five brass, piano, bass, and drums) and could generate overwhelming volume or evince the most subtle articulations. The bands led by Duke Ellington and Count Basie were the finest practitioners of this idiom, while those of Fletcher Henderson, Jimmy Lunceford, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey (see under Dorsey, Jimmy), and Harry James were also outstanding. The music was often written to showcase soloists who were, or were intended to be, supported by the ensemble.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.