The early swing era of jazz, from 1930 to 1941, represents both an extension of developments of the previous decade and an introduction of new tendencies that influenced subsequent periods of jazz history. Major big bands and individual artists established important styles that brought wide popularity to the music, while small groups created innovative approaches that determined the directions jazz would take in the years to come. This was a time marked by colorful band leaders, flashy instrumental soloists, showy orchestras, and engaging singers, and Oliphant's reference guide to this period is an invaluable source of information on its artists, methods, innovations, and recordings.
Directing readers to outstanding performances available on compact disc, it serves not only as a scholarly historical and cultural overview, but also as a helpful guide for the layman. Organized in a biographical format, the volume discusses many individuals and groups that have not been considered so fully before, and provides a critical assessment of a major period in American music.