A Review of John Wriggle's Blue Rhythm Fantasy: Big Band Jazz Arranging in the Swing Era (Music in American Life)

  • Hannah Shoemaker Christopher Newport University


As author John Wriggle discusses in his book, Blue Rhythm Fantasy: Big Band Arranging in the Swing Era, American popular music has assumed several identities over the last one hundred years. From 1920 to 1945, swing bands were the main form of musical entertainment. The period between the 1930s and mid 1940s is particularly interesting, because of the juxtaposition of a thriving economy and the introduction of new recording technologies. This uniquely new atmosphere allowed for large groups of musicians to be profitable and ultimately facilitated the success of big bands. During this era, American popular culture was characterized by swing bands, night clubs, and a heated political culture (264). The period of time when jazz was the premiere American art form was aptly deemed the “Swing Era.”