Design By Humans
Published On: Tue, Aug 9th, 2016

Fletcher Henderson: Noble Blue

fletcherFletcher Henderson
Noble Blue
(The Verve Music Group)

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Fletcher Henderson was a major player in the swing movement, an American jazz form that combined jazz and pop music into a single genre. This form of jazz is synonymous with the soundtrack of a pre-WWII era, a brighter, simpler time. It’s as if Noble Blue zips you back to the Roaring Twenties and leaves you to bask in its vibrant flare. With Fletcher’s swing you get the full sound of an orchestra along with individualized attention to specific sections of the band: throughout the record certain sections will take on a call-and-response style, one section laying down a rhythm for another to deliver the melody. Fletcher’s unique sound wouldn’t have had the same success if he weren’t able to convince Louis Armstrong to leave Chicago for New York to join his band in 1924. Though Armstrong only stayed with them for a year, the rest of the orchestra quickly learned to emulate his playing style and to adapt it to the big band format. The widespread popularity of Henderson’s new sound was arguably one of the biggest reasons New York blossomed into a jazz hub of America, a proving ground for musicians who wanted to put their skills up against the best in the scene.

Henderson’s musical career began at age six with piano lessons – though he exhibited considerable talent from the start, he would gravitate toward other interests (both academic and athletic) during his young adulthood. Following a successful collegiate career in baseball (his hitting ability earned him the nickname “Smack”), he intended to pursue further studies in chemistry; though he deemed the lack of opportunity for African-Americans chemists a valid reason to turn his intentions back toward music. Times have changed manifold since Fletcher made his initial mark on jazz, but the music he created remains ready for anyone who wishes to zoom back to the swing era.

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Fletcher Henderson: Noble Blue