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Underwritten by Carolyn and Bill Powers
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1

The Blues and Jazz

II. Evolution of Blues Styles, 1900 - present

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Charley Patton

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Bessie Smith

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Jelly Roll Morton

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Bo Diddley

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Stevie Ray Vaughan


A. Roots of the Blues

      

1.

African retentions 

            

a.

solo performance of vocals with instrumental accompaniment, akin to West African griots watch video Bukka White singing Aberdeen Mississippi Blues (1967) 

            

b.

reliance on pentatonic (five note) scale 

            

c.

"vocalizations" such as melisma and timbral variation employed by instruments (slide guitar, harmonica slurs, horn multiphonics) watch video Whistler's Jug Band playing Foldin' Bed (1930) 

      

2.

plantation and work songs 

      

3.

minstrel music, spirituals 

      

4.

popular dance music, rural ballads 

Audio Snippets

speakerspacer ALISEWO - Dembo Konte & Kausu Kuyateh with Mawdo Suso
speakerspacer WALK RIGHT IN  - Cannon's Jug Stompers
speakerspacer BEULAH LAND - John Davis
speakerspacer NO MORE, MY LORD - Tangle Eye and a group of prisoners
speakerspacer PEA PATCH JIG - Robert Winans
speakerspacer O DEATH  - Bessie Jones


B. Folk Blues (also known as Country Blues, Rural Blues, and Downhome Blues)

   

Refers to all the acoustic guitar-driven styles of the blues 

      

1.

Composer W.C. Handy reports seeing a hobo playing "blues" in a Tutwiler train station in 1903: "A lean, loose-jointed Negro had commenced plunking a guitar beside me while I slept. As he played, he pressed a knife on the strings of the guitar...the effect was unforgettable. His song, too, struck me instantly: 'Goin' where the Southern cross' the Dog,' the singer repeated three times, accompanying himself on guitar with the weirdest music I had ever heard."  

      

2.

Charlie Patton, arriving at the Dockery Plantation in the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta in 1900 at age nine, pursues instruction/inspiration from bluesman Henry Sloan; Patton becomes one of the most influential singer/guitarists in blues history. 

      

3.

"By 1910, the golden age of the Mississippi Delta Bluesman had cemented itself firmly in the regional culture of African Americans. No Saturday night "juke," barrelhouse, or holiday function was complete without blues musicians. The early bluesmen worked traditional routes throughout the Delta, using trains and dirt roads." - James Miller, The Origins of the Mississippi Delta Blues, historicaltextarchive.com watch video Skip James singing Crow Jane (1967) 

      

4.

Traveling African-American bluesmen and "songsters," pianists, as well as soloists with transportable instruments, perform blues, rags, popular songs, and dance music from Virginia to Texas, recording regional "race records" that reach audiences nationwide. 

      

5.

1960s revival of interest in Delta blues spurred by Columbia Records' release of early bluesman Robert Johnson's two recording sessions from 1936 and '37; rediscovery of aging stars and emergence of unknown semi-professionals. watch video Bluesman Roy Rogers on Robert Johnson (1999) 

Audio Snippets

speakerspacer PONY BLUES - Charley Patton
speakerspacer SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD - Missisippi Sheiks
speakerspacer BROKE AND HUNGRY - Blind Lemon Jefferson
speakerspacer GOOD MORNING BLUES - Leadbelly
speakerspacer DROP DOWN MAMA - Sleepy John Estes


C. Classic Blues

   

Refers to the first blues songs to be recorded, mostly by female vocalists using jazz accompanists. 

      

1.

Mamie Smith's recording of Crazy Blues, written by Perry Bradford, issued by Okeh Records on August 10, 1920, sells an estimated 75,000 copies in the first month, one million in the first year, kicking off nationwide craze for female vocalists performing with piano and/or small band accompaniment. watch video Ida Cox singing Four Day Creep (1939) 

      

2.

Ma Rainey of the Rabbit Foot Minstrel Show tours Theater Owners' Booking Association (TOBA) circuit in the 1920s. 

      

3.

Bessie Smith, a Ma Rainey protege, records for Columbia Records from 1923-'33, dies 1937. 

      

4.

Survivors of the 1920s Classic Blues era, including Alberta Hunter, Victoria Spivey, and Sippie Wallace, enjoy late life career renewal through efforts of 1960s and '70s white folk, country, and rock musicians. watch video Jerry Reed and Chet Atkins playing Jerry's Breakdown (1976) 

Audio Snippets

speakerspacer GOIN' CRAZY WITH THE BLUES - Mamie Smith
speakerspacer ST. LOUIS BLUES - Bessie Smith


D. Urban Blues (also know as Chicago Blues and Electric Blues)

   

Refers to a more sophisticated, "polished" style of the blues, usually with lyrics depicting city life - its opportunities and dark realities. 

      

1.

Tampa Red and Georgia Tom Dorsey (later, father of gospel music) join forces in Chicago, 1928, recording bawdy blues as "The Hokum Boys"; Red welcomes southern bluesmen in Chicago into the 1950s. 

      

2.

T-Bone Walker, first electric blues guitarist, wins spot with Cab Calloway band in 1930.  

      

3.

jazz pianist Count Basie's big band, inspired by Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra, specializes in "head arrangements" featuring blues-to-jazz instrumental soloists and singers in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s such as Jimmy Rushing. watch video Jimmy Rushing (with the Count Basie Band) singing I Left My Baby (1957)  

      

4.

Muddy Waters emigrates from Stovall's Plantation to Chicago in 1943 and forms band with two electric guitars (himself and Buddy Guy), drums, bass, sometimes piano (Otis Spann), and/or harmonica (Little Walter Jacobs), establishing enduring format, circa 1950. watch video Otis Spann singing and playing Spann's Blues (1963) watch video Howlin' Wolf singing How Many More Years (1966) 

      

5.

Crossover to rock 'n' roll. 

            

a.

South: New Orleans (Fats Domino), Memphis (Elvis Presley, B.B. King) watch videoElvis Presley singing Jailhouse Rock (1957) 

            

b.

Midwest: Kansas City (Big Joe Turner) watch video Big Joe Turner singing Shake, Rattle, and Roll (1967) 

            

c.

Chess Records' artists Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. watch video Chuck Berry singing and playing Johnny B. Goode (1958) 

            

d.

Atlantic Records artist Ruth Brown

            

e.

Ray Charles' gospel infusion. watch video Ray Charles singing What I'd Say (1963) watch video Etta James singing Something Got a Hold On Me (1962) 

      

6.

Blues Revivals 

            

a.

1960s folk music movement rediscovers aged blues musicians watch video Skip James singing Crow Jane (1967) watch video Bukka White singing Poor Boy (1965) 

            

b.

1960s folk musicians are influenced by and perform the blues, e.g., Bob Dylan watch video Bob Dylan (1965) 

            

c.

1960s British rock invasion influenced by and performs the blues, e.g., John Mayall, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zepplin 

            

d.

1960s American rock musicians are influenced by and perform the blues, e.g., Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Taj Mahal, Allman Brothers watch video Jimi Hendrix singing and playing Killing Floor watch video Janis Joplin singing Ball & Chain (1969) 

            

e.

1980s: the Blues Brothers combine comedy with the blues watch video The Blues Brothers Theatrical Trailer (1980) 

            

f.

1980s and '90s: the blues hits Broadway, e.g., Ruth Brown staring in Black and Tan 

            

g.

2003: "Year of the Blues" Martin Scorsese films 

            

h.

Today: blues continuum with hip-hop, alternative rock, and neo-soul watch video Chaka Khan and "Rufus" performing Somethin' Good (1974) 

Audio Snippets

speakerspacer WOLVERINE BLUES - Jelly Roll Morton
speakerspacer MR. JOHNSON'S BLUES - Lonnie Johnson
speakerspacer MOOD INDIGO - Duke Ellington

Video Clips

videospacer Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers - Blues March
videospacer Big Joe Turner - Shake, Rattle, and Roll
videospacer Big Mama Thornton - Hound Dog
videospacer Billie Holiday - Fine and Mellow
videospacer Bluesman Roy Rogers on Robert Johnson
videospacer Bob Dylan - Maggie's Farm
videospacer Bukka White - Poor Boy Long Way from Home
videospacer Bukka White - Aberdeen Mississippi Blues
videospacer Chaka Khan - Somethin' Good
videospacer Chuck Berry - Maybellene
videospacer Elvis Presley - Jailhouse Rock
videospacer Etta James - Something Got a Hold on Me
videospacer Howlin' Wolf - How Many More Years
videospacer Ida Cox - Four Day Creep
videospacer Janis Joplin - Ball and Chain live in Frankfurt, 1969
videospacer Jerry Reed and Chet Atkins - Jerry's Breakdown
videospacer Jimi Hendrix - Killing Floor
videospacer Jimmy Rushing - I Left My Baby
videospacer Muddy Waters - Got My Mojo Workin'
videospacer Otis Spann - Spann's Blues
videospacer Ray Charles - What I'd Say
videospacer Skip James sings Crow Jane
videospacer Skip James sings Crow Jane
videospacer The Blues Brothers - Theatrical Trailer
videospacer Whistler's Jug Band - Foldin' Bed
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