View Chapters

Book: Kansas City Jazz

Chapter: Rhythm: From Banjo to Guitar, Two Drums to Trap Set

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.42624


The evolution of the typical rhythm section of a Kansas City-style jazz band are described. The banjo was abandoned in favor of the guitar, which could be used to produce more varied tones; Eddie Durham, who would collaborate with Count Basie as composer/arranger for Bennie Moten, played an important role in the electrification of the guitar which allowed it to be heard over other instruments and to displace the hackneyed rhythmic accompaniment that the banjo produced.
The use of drums in African-American music evolved from the two-drummer format of New Orleans bands (one bass, one snare), with the invention of the bass drum foot pedal. The development of the “hi-hat”—a contraption by which two cymbals mounted on a pole could be manipulated by a drummer’s foot and played either by itself or with drumsticks--expanded the rhythmic foundation of Southwestern bands and allowed for more varied effects.

Chapter Contributors