ILM's 2005 collaborative mix project hoonja-doonja!

March 24, 2005

Fletcher Henderson, "Oh Baby"

What is more maximalist than the active inventing of big band jazz? This is what Don Redman was doing when he hooked up with Fletcher Henderson in 1923 and got to work arranging piles of songbooks. Borrowing from New Orleans collective improv and Jelly Roll Morton's brand of stride, Redman worked at seperating out an ever-growing coterie of instruments into something whole and multi-faceted. His mechanisms are still a part of popular music; he invented, or at least popularized, the "false start," and, due to the relative closeness in pitch and timbre of jazz-associated instruments, harmonically layered the horns and wrote in full-band pauses to make way for a single instrumental passage. These tricks equaled more sonicly interesting music, added tension and complicated the fairly basic source material. Redman blazed a trail for Duke Ellington to set up the ultimate big band blind date, where popularity rendez-vous'd with musical sophistication at an intensity unmatched before or since.

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