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He Popularity of Jazz Musicians by Black Artists

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The popularity of jazz musicians by black artists has experienced particularly high levels of advancement in Kansas City throughout history. "For a brief period from the late 1920s through the late 1930s, Kansas City was a mecca for Midwestern and southwestern black jazz musicians. Some extraorginary music resulted from the healthy competition and collegiality that grew among musicians of significantly different backgrounds and styles. Among the musicians who marked the sound of Kansas City then were Bill "Count" Basie, Bennie Moten, Lester Young, Eddie Durham, Jesse Stone, Walter Page, Oran "Hot Lips" Page, Mary Lou Williams, Eddie Barefield, Henry "Buster" Smith, Ed Lewis, Jimmy Rushing, Joe Turner, Pete Johnson, Jay McShann, Claude "Fiddler" Williams, Dick Wilson, and Charlie Parker. It is an extraordinary role call for a relatively small city of the period," (Pearon 182). With consideration for these individuals, it is apparent that the most significant time period in Kansas City history, in regard to the spread of black jazz music, is the 1920s and 1930s.

One of the most indirectly responsible musicians who aided in the spread of black jazz music in Kansas City is Bill "Count" Basie, a character who "deserves to be [known by] anyone claiming to have more than a passing interest in the historical development of jazz," (Dunford 321). He was the "most important piano player and the most important band leader to emerge from Kansas City..." (Richards). "Basie, unlike most of the other territory musicians, was not a native Midwesterner. Originally from New Jersey, he was stranded in Kansas City when a touring group he was with broke up. He then played for a while as an accompanist in silent movie theaters until he joined the Blue Devils in 1928 and Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra in 1929. When Moten's group disbanded in 1932, its core musicians, including Walter Page and drummer Jo Jones, became the core of the Count Basie Orchestra".

Bennie Moten is a second important individual with regard to the advancement of black jazz music in Kansas City history. "A Bennie Moten ensemble had been around since the early 1920s. And by 1924, on its third record date and with its personnel expanded from six to eight, it had its first hit in a piece called "South." Indeed, a 1928 stylistically updated Moten remake of "South," with ten instrumentalists--two trumpets, a trombone, three reeds, and four rhythm--could be found in jukeboxes in the South and Southwest well into the 1940s," (Williams 172). "Moten's band became a model for the Kansas City sound, which was based on ragtime and blues. Kansas City jazz typically featured a full, big-band sound, with simple arrangements that were based on riffs, or two-to four-bar musical phrases, rather than on fully developed melodies. This left a good deal of room for solo work, and some of the most important soloists in jazz developed within the Kansas City bands," (Richards). Contributing decades of memorable music earns Moten the privilege to be considered an important individual in the advancement of Kansas City black jazz music.

Another well-known contributor of black jazz music is Lester Young. "Tenor saxophonist Lester "Pres" Young looms large as a hero among jazz fans and writers as well as among musicians. Known as "president" of the tenor saxophone, he gained recognition for this musical genius while playing with leading swing bands of the 1930s, including the 13 Original Blue Devils and the King Oliver and Count Basie bands," (Daniels 313). Indeed, to provide sufficient reason to be nicknamed the president of any instrument is to provide sufficient reason to be known as an important factor in the advancement of the genre of music in which such an instrument is used.

Eddie Durham is a notable member of this prestigious group considered to be important contributors in

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