Fletcher Henderson, a figure whose place in music history continues to arouse debate and critical discussion, occupied a unique position in the development of jazz. A classically trained pianist, he helped bridge the world of the formal written arrangement with the African-American art of improvisation, creating a new orchestral style in jazz known as "swing." The dominant exponent of the New York, or "eastcoast," style, Henderson launched his career as part of the society orchestra and dance band craze of the 1920s and emerged, by the 1930s, as the leader of a model jazz ensemble.