In the 1920s, New York City had two pioneering orchestras that would eventually greatly affect jazz history. Fletcher Henderson put together a band that first appeared at the Cotton Club in New York in 1923. Henderson’s unit featured future jazz stars Coleman Hawkins and Don Redman but it wasn’t until Henderson brought Louis Armstrong from Chicago to play with his group that the band began to develop into a full-fledged jazz group which would help to usher in the swing era. Duke Ellington moved to New York from Washington, DC in the early twenties and began to develop the skills as an arranger and composer which brought to him the great fame he enjoyed throughout his career.
Another transplanted New Orleans pioneer, Clarence Williams, had a hand in organizing many early jazz and blues recordings in New York. In the late twenties, the jazz center of the United States moved from Chicago to New York City as many musicians did also.
During the twenties and thirties there were many groups known as Territory Bands playing jazz in smaller United States cities. In the late twenties, Kansas City’s Bennie Moten Band acquired members of Walter Page’s Blue Devils which were formed in Oklahoma City. This group later evolved into the Count BasieOrchestra. Some other cities with burgeoning jazz scenes were St. Louis, Memphis and Detroit.
As jazz evolved, highly arranged dance music became the norm. When white musicians like Benny Goodman added black arrangements for their scores, jazz began to move into the Swing or Big Band period. Large black and white jazz bands toured the United States filling the radio airwaves with swing, a term which became synonymous with jazz. Great African American bands during the swing era were Jimmy Lunceford, Chick Webb, Mills Blue Rhythm and Andy Kirk’s Clouds of Joy. It was also a time when vocalists came to the forefront led by such favorites Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday