Jazz & Blues

The Roots of Popular Music

An introuduction...

Blues was born out of the songs sung by black slaves during the slave trade in the 1800s and continued by black people who felt oppressed by racism and inequality. Famous recordings include: Saint Louis blues and Memphis Blues, written by WC Handy, Hound Dog written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller and I can't quit you baby written by Wille Dixon. Most blues artists, From Blind Lemon Jefferson and Bessie Smith to Led Zeppelin, have recorded these songs and countless others like it. The blues was played by average Black americans for many years until, in around 1910, it began to develop into Rag-Time and Dixieland Jazz in New Orleans. Artists like Jelly Roll Morton and The Original Dixieland Jazz Band (or ODJB) began playing this new form of music and called in "Jass", a name which later evolved into Jazz.

Bessie Smith - ST Louis Blues (Live Queens NY 1929)
Tiger Rag - The Original Dixieland Jazz Band (1917)
Jazz developed alongside Blues in the 1920s becoming vastly more popular than its parent genre with virtuosic Bands, players and Singers like Louis Armstrong, Nick Lucas, Paul Whiteman's Orchestra and Bing Crosby with the Rhythm Boys. Listen to the Following to hear the new sounds of Jazz in the 1920s...
Paul Whiteman and his Rhythm Boys (w/Bing)-"Happy Feet"
Progressing to the 1930s, Blues and Jazz were the predominant music styles in America. Everyday people had first hand experience of hardship due to the great depression, popularising songs such as "Brother can you spare me a dime". Jazz had become more syncopated and evolved into the much more recognisable "Swing" sub genre while blues musicians were playing traditional songs collected from the rural areas of America, Alan Lomax was one of the first to go and collect these songs from the people who sung them and record them to preserve their current form as many of these songs were adapted and evolved over the years. Listen to the following to hear the sounds of the 30s...
Benny Goodman - Moonglow
Black Betty by LEADBELLY, Blues Legend (1939)
The 40s and 50s saw great changes for Jazz and Blues, Swing was at its height before 1942, but the second world war meant many of the big bands (Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, Tommy Dorsey) were broken up because their personnel were drafted into the armed forces. Afterwards, small band jazz and Be-Bop took over. In the south, Traditional blues, country and Jazz were coming together to become "Western Swing" and "Rockabilly" which combined with Jive music which was a new and popular form of Jazz became rock and Roll in the 50s. Listen to the styles and see how they came together...
COWBOY STOMP by Bob Wills 1947
Choo Choo Ch'boogie - Louis Jordan
CATTY TOWN - Pee Wee King
Buddy Holly - Oh boy!
Jazz and Blues went on to influence many Bands in the future in the form of rock and roll e.g. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Queen etc. and the styles are still relevant to the music of today, without Blues and Jazz, there would be no pop music. Thus concludes my brief look into these musical styles and to play us out...
The Beatles - I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry Over You (Live at the BBC)