Territorial Bands and a New Headquarters
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Bennie Moten's Orchestra, c. 1930-31 courtesy Chuck Haddix Moten's Swing Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra

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Bennie Moten Band, 1929-35

The Bennie Moten band lacked get-off soloists and a strong vocalist. Moten long coveted the Blue Devils, one of the leading territorial bands. Moten, seeking to compete with Fletcher Henderson and other eastern bands, brought aboard William "Count" Basie, Eddie Durham, Walter Page, Jimmy Page and other alumni of the Blue Devils. The addition of the Blue Devils members created dissension in the ranks of the Moten band. Thamon Hayes, Ed Lewis and others resigned after Moten discharged Harlan Leonard, Vernon Page, Booker Washington and other long-time members. Hayes and other members estranged from the Moten band raided the George E. Lee band for Jesse Stone and a few other key members to form the Thamon Hayes Band. The Hayes band became Moten's principal rival. Moten's tragic death in April, 1935, while undergoing a tonsillectomy, ended the first great era of Kansas City jazz and launched Count Basie's career as a band leader.

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