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Many Britons are familiar with the Caribbean immigration into England after the Second World War, the SS Empire Windrush generation. In terms of enriching British jazz, this evolving migration has given society the benefits of Cleo Laine, Joe Harriott, Elaine Delmar and Courtney Pine. But the Black presence in Britain began much earlier and, by the dance band era of the 1930s, there were enough swinging, jazzy musicians of colour to form their own orchestra. "Black British Swing" unpacks the story of Ken 'Snakehips' Johnson's West Indian Dance Band, once Britain's most exciting dance outfit, which competed against the Blitz for the soul of London. Popular up-and-down the country, in the West End's Cafe de Paris, on the BBC and by their recordings, this swinging ensemble spawned further dance bands and small rhythm combos, and pioneered the lead electric guitar too. The better jazz artists of the African diaspora, whether from the Caribbean or Cardiff, found great if bittersweet opportunity in the otherwise white, English music scene. Against the backdrop of the record industry, broadcasting and the racial barriers of the 1930s and 1940s, "Black British Swing" offers a revealing contribution to our cultural history.
Number Of Pages: 192
Published: 30th September 2014
Publisher: Northway Publications
Dimensions (cm): 23.2 x 15.4 x 1.0