[JPL] Jazz and RnB

Tom Reney tr at wfcr.org
Sun Aug 17 12:03:05 EDT 2008

I had a memorable encounter with the garrulous Jerry Wexler at a Fabulous 
Thunderbirds show at the Bottom Line on Valentine's Day in 1983.

And this discussion of jazz and r&b reminds me of a line that T-Birds 
guitarist Jimmie Vaughan said of his group's conception back in the 70's: 
"We're just lookin' for a new way to do the boogie woogie."  If you go back 
to the earliest piano blues recordings of the 20's, you'll hear the basics 
of most that has developed since then in the way of Kansas City swing, jump 
blues, New Orleans r&b, rock'n'roll, soul-- the unfolding of a half-century 
of music is right there in prototypes created by Cow Cow Davenport, Pine Top 
Smith, Roosevelt Sykes and countless others.  Listen to Joe Turner and Pete 
Johnson's 1938 "Roll 'Em Pete," and there you'll hear reduced to voice and 
piano the whole dynamic of big band swing.  Turner sings whole choruses 
comprised of "Yes, Yes," "Well, Alright Then," and "Bye Baby Bye," that 
mirror the call and response of reed and brass sections, and Johnson lays 
down the basic rhythmic foundation that in a larger group, whether Basie, 
Louis Jordan, T-Bone Walker, Jimmy Reed, or B.B. King would be played by a 3 
or 4 piece section.  Robert Johnson's genius as a self-accompanied guitarist 
in the mid-1930'a was his ability to maintain a boogie pattern while 
simultaneously playing melodic lines.

Doin' the boogie woogie, or as Count Basie put it, swingin' the blues, was a 
sufficient pursuit for many musicians.  But blues masters like Duke 
Ellington, Lester Young, Roy Eldridge, Billie Holiday, Teddy Wilson, and 
Charlie Christian had broader musical visions, and their greatest work of 
the 30's and early 40's reached a pinnacle of creativity in the swing idiom. 
Nothing much was going to exceed these achievements, and thus it was 
inevitable that the next generation would develop greater challenges for 
itself.  Bebop was the result, and its fractured melodies, harmonic 
complexities, and dance-defying polyrhythms made it the music of a select 
listenership, while jump blues, r&b, pop and rock'n'roll maintained a 
danceable beat and lyrical subject matter enjoyed by the masses.

Tom Reney

> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> Arturo Gomez wrote:
>> Blues has always had the jump aspect to it making it very danceable and
>> while pre-WW2 big band jazz graced many a dance hall and ballroom around 
>> the
>> country much to the dancer's delight, jump blues was the dance music of 
>> juke
>> joints and house parties especially in areas outside an urban hub.
>> After WW2 it was difficult to keep big bands touring due to travel costs 
>> so
>> many former bib band members scaled down and began creating combos, big 
>> band
>> swing with jump blues sensibilities, this was most noticeable in Los 
>> Angeles
>> with groups like Louis Jordan & Tympany Five, Roy Milton and his Solid
>> Senders, Joe and Jimmy Liggins & the Honey Drippers, Roy Milton, T-Bone
>> Walker, Pee Wee Crayton, Big Joe Turner, Wynonie Harris and many others.
>> Johnny Otis the "Godfather of RnB" who came out of the territorial big 
>> band
>> scene as a drummer knew a good thing when he saw it and opened up the
>> Barrelhouse club on Central Avenue that  became the hub for the new RnB
>> scene which are the real roots of rock n roll, basically RnB with a new
>> moniker. Forget that man from Tupelo and Memphis, Louis Jordan is the 
>> King
>> of Rock n Roll in my book, a proto-typer rapper as well. Vote Jordan for
>> President !!!
>> Arturo
> I have always thought that a number of factors went into the creation and 
> growth of R&B. I think that the west coast jump blues that you mentioned 
> was one of them. I have also thought that Chicago's electric blues and the 
> east coast vocal ensembles, descendants of the Mills Brothers and The Ink 
> Spots, were also important factors in the development of R&B. And of 
> course, there is New Orleans which has also was rocking early on.
> It's interesting to note that Johnny Otis, the man you called "The 
> Godfather of R&B" is Greek.
> Some years ago, when Bryant Gumbel was hosting the Today Show, they did a 
> week long feature on the history of rock and roll. They interviewed Bo 
> Didley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Chuck Berry. They asked Chuck 
> who was the first rock and roller. He said it was Fats Waller. I have a 
> book called "What Was The First Rock & Roll Record?" The first thing 
> listed is "The Blues pt 2" from the JATP session in LA on July 2,1944.
> I just interviewed author John Fass Morton about his book, "Backstory In 
> Blue: Ellington at Newport '56. He and several of the people he 
> interviewed in the book refer to Diminuendo in Blue and Crescendo in Blue 
> as R&B. I had never thought of it that way but after I listened again, I 
> could certainly hear what they were saying. Those two pieces were written 
> in either 1937 or 1938. Basie and Lionel Hampton's Big Band both recorded 
> music that sounded sounded like R&B.
> Eric Jackson
> Mon - Thurs 8 pm - mid.
> 89.7 FM WGBH Boston
> www.wgbh.org/jazz

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