The True Welcome (1929-1935)
Amid the hard times of the Depression, a new dance, the Lindy Hop, begins to catch on at the dance halls of New York. The reminiscences of two of Harlem’s greatest dancers, Frankie Manning and Norma Miller, help frame this episode. Louis Armstrong begins to sing on stage; though his career suffers from a string of bad luck, his trumpet playing and singing continue to astonish listeners. Duke Ellington’s band begins to appear in Hollywood films, and he provides audiences in America and abroad with an image of elegant sophistication. The privileged young writer and music producer John Hammond promotes jazz and social justice with equal zeal. Benny Goodman becomes a successful bandleader, Fats Waller becomes one of the most popular entertainers in the country and pianist Art Tatum brings a dazzling virtuosity to the music. As swing dancing catches on, a new kind of big band jazz begins to emerge.