Year Developments in Jazz Historical Events
  • Trumpeter Louis Armstrong records Body and Soul.
  • In a recording session with Armstrong, percussionist Lionel Hampton plays his first vibraphone solo and decides to make that his main instrument.
  • Bandleader Paul Whiteman and his orchestra star in the movie The King of Jazz.
  • Bandleader Cab Calloway becomes a regular at the Cotton Club.
  • Free jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman is born.
  • The planet Pluto is discovered.
  • The jet engine is invented.
  • Cornetist Bix Beiderbecke dies of pneumonia at age 38.
  • Cornetist Buddy Bolden dies.
  • Pianist Lil Hardin separates from her husband Louis Armstrong and forms an all-female band.
  • RCA demonstrates the first 33 1/3 rmp long-playing disc.
  • The Empire State Building opens in New York City.
  • Spain becomes a Republic.
  • Japan invades Manchuria.
  • There is massive worldwide unemployment.
  • Duke Ellington records It Don't Mean a Thing (If it Ain't' Got That Swing), the first jazz composition to use swing in the title.
  • Clarinetist Benny Goodman begins his career with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra.
  • Pianist Joe Zawinul, trumpeter Donald Byrd, and jazz harpist Dorothy Ashby are all born.
  • John Cockcroft works in nuclear physics, and is the first to split an atom in a completely controlled manner. This work, for which he won a Nobel award in 1951, was also one of the first experiments to verify Einstein's E=mc^2.
  • Japan forms a Manchurian Republic and later attacks Shanghai.
  • Radio City Music Hall opens in New York.
  • Aviator Charles Lindbergh's son is kidnapped.
  • With the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, Berlin radio station Funkstunde bans jazz broadcasts.
  • Pianist Art Tatum records his first piano solo, Tiger Rag, which is thought by many to be a duet.
  • Duke Ellington and his orchestra begin their first tour of Europe.
  • Singer Bessie Smith makes her last recordings.
  • Singer Billie Holiday makes her first recording.
  • Adolph Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany, followed by the creation of the Dachau concentration camp, political arrests, and the appropriation of Jewish finances by the government.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt becomes president, intiates economic recovery in the U.S.
  • Mahatma Ghandi is imprisoned.
  • Prohibition ends in the U.S.
  • The first photographs of the Loch Ness monster are published in Britain's Daily Mail.
  • Fletcher Henderson's band folds due to financial difficulties and Henderson sells his arrangements to Benny Goodman, who performs with his band at Billy Rose's Music Hall in New York.
  • The journal Down Beat: the Contemporary Music Magazine is launched in Chicago.
  • The Quintette du Hot Club de France, featuring guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli, gives its first public performance at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris.
  • Jimmie Lunceford's band replaces Cab Calloway’s at the Cotton Club in Harlem.
  • Clarinetist Jimmy Dorsey and trombonist Tommy Dorsey form the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra.
  • Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday appear in the film Symphony in Black.
  • Outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are shot dead.
  • Italian troops invade Albania.
  • The Nazi coup fails in Austria.
  • Adolf Hitler begins his dictatorship in Germany.
  • Blues singer Leadbelly is released from prison in Louisiana after writing a song to the governor asking for a pardon.
  • The first cheeseburger is served in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • Pianist and bandleader Bennie Moten dies.
  • Pianist Count Basie forms the Barons of Rhythm with members of Moten's band.
  • Vocalist Ella Fitzgerald makes her first recordings.
  • Clarinetist Benny Goodman records Fletcher Henderson's arrangement of Jelly Roll Morton's King Porter Stomp.
  • Benny Goodman begins recording with a racially integrated trio that includes pianist Teddy Wilson and drummer Gene Krupa.
  • Billie Holiday makes several recordings with pianist Teddy Wilson, including What a Little Moonlight Can Do.
  • George Gershwin's three-act opera Porgy and Bess opens at the Alvin Theater in New York.
  • Italy invades Ethiopia.
  • The first paperback books are published.
  • The electric guitar is invented.
  • Billie Holiday and Teddy Wilson record I Cried for You, which goes on to sell 15,000 copies.
  • Pianist Nat King Cole makes his first recordings with the Solid Swingers, a band led by his brother, Eddie Cole, a bassist.
  • Benny Goodman, adding vibraphonist Lionel Hampton to his trio, records Moonglow, which starts a series of popular quartet recordings.
  • Duke Ellington provides music for the Marx Brothers movie A Day at the Races.
  • Black American athlete Jesse Owens wins four gold medals at the Olympic Games in Berlin; Hitler leaves the stadium and refuses to be photographed with Owens.
  • Billie Holiday makes her debut with Count Basie's band.
  • Coleman Hawkins records with Django Reinhardt and saxophonist Benny Carter in Paris.
  • Duke Ellington records Caravan, by Juan Tizol.
  • Count Basie's band broadcasts from the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem.
  • Count Basie's band records One O'clock Jump, which becomes their signature tune.
  • Benny Goodman records Sing, Sing, Sing.
  • George Gershwin dies of a brain tumor.
  • Nat King Cole creates a new ensemble with piano, bass, and guitar.
  • Bessie Smith dies in a car accident.
  • Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie makes his first recordings.
  • The Hindenburg explodes in New Jersey.
  • The Japanese capture Peking and control Shanghai.
  • Benny Goodman's band hosts a sold out concert at Carnegie Hall which features a jazz history element and a jam session with members of Duke Ellington’s and Count Basie's bands. After the Goodman concert, Count Basie's band and Chick Webb's band have an informal competition at the Savoy Ballroom.
  • Cornetist King Oliver dies after years in poverty working as a pool-room janitor.
  • Benny Goodman's band records Bach Goes to Town: Prelude and Fugue in Swing, which combines elements of classical music and swing.
  • Germany annexes Austria and Sudetenland.
  • Shopping carts are introduced for the first time in Oklahoma.
  • Actor Orson Welles broadcasts War of the Worlds, a radio science-fiction drama about a Martian invasion, and causes a nationwide panic.
  • A new band led by trombonist Glenn Miller gains notoriety through regular radio broadcasts.
  • Billie Holiday records Strange Fruit, with controversial lyrics regarding lynchings which causes it to be banned from several radio stations.
  • Chick Webb dies and Ella Fitzgerald takes over his band.
  • Glenn Miller records the hugely successful In The Mood.
  • Benny Goodman hires guitarist Charlie Christian.
  • Lester Young records Lester Leaps In with Count Basie.
  • Coleman Hawkins records Body and Soul, setting a new standard for improvisational sophistication on the saxophone.
  • Artie Shaw retires.
  • Singer Ma Rainey dies.
  • Charlie Parker moves to New York to pursue music.
  • Blue Note Records is founded.
  • World War II breaks out in Europe.
  • Germany occupies Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia, and Lithuania and invades Poland.
  • Military conscription is introduced in Britain.
  • Hitler and Mussolini agree to a "Pact of Steel."
  • The Spanish Civil War ends.
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