Swing to Bebop: Inherent Social Changes
The 1920's and 1930's were a period for unprecedented African American contributions to the music world. The twenties, which have now been termed "the jazz age", laid the foundation for jazz as a marketable mainstream fascination. Throughout the twenties and thirties, dances such as the Charleston, Lindy Hop, and Jitterbug helped to secure the big band profession in entertainment. Swing emerged as a genre formulated on a swinging 4/4 beat with live performances completely written-out and arranged. During the 1940's a new form of jazz emerged known as bebop. Bebop is largely attributed to the efforts of John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie and Charlie Parker. The emergence of bebop was not a sharp transition. Rather, it was the natural evolution of jazz that merely caught on and became popularized due to social circumstances of the time.
In the early parts of the twentieth century, Reconstruction hopes had been dashed by race riots, lynchings, disfranchisement, the spread of Jim Crow laws, declining educational opportunities, and the exclusion of black labor from skilled industries making it clear that white America had renounced any responsibility for the welfare of the black population.
Many black leaders during the period advocated a self-improvement position. Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee plan argued that mastery of a skill was the only way to improve the situation of African Americans. In 1910, James Reese Europe founded the Clef Club which was a self help organization designed to secure the music trade for as much of Harlem as possible by pooling resources and rationalizing business practices. Unfortunately, the Clef Club became the aristocracy of the black music world who played in exclusive hotels and society dance gigs by the 1920's.
In the 1920's, when the economy was on the rise, many families trained their children...