In When Genres Collide, Matt Brennan rethinks popular music history by exploring how writers in the music magazines Down Beat and Rolling Stone constructed an artificial ideological divide between jazz and rock ‘n’ roll that would be replicated in American musical discourse for decades to follow. This provocative new history received an honorable mention in the Association of American Publishers’ PROSE Award for Music & Performing Arts in 2018.
Brennan argues, in ‘Chapter 1: Early American Jazz as the Precursor to Rock 'n' Roll’, that rock ‘n’ roll has roots in the 1930s swing craze. When Benny Goodman hired the African-American bandleader Fletcher Henderson (pictured) to create arrangements of hot jazz for his 1935 radio show, Goodman leaped to stardom. Hot jazz, now labeled ‘swing’, immediately tapped into a young white audience across the USA, in a similar way to Elvis Presley’s appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in 1956.
Read more about the swing phenomenon in the Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World’s entry on ‘Swing Music and Big-Band Jazz'.