[JPL] Jazz and RnB

Tom Reney tr at wfcr.org
Sun Aug 17 20:00:47 EDT 2008


I would agree that there's a distinct sound to r&b in the post-Wexler 
period, and it's called Soul.  As a producer, he was instrumental in 
encouraging Ray Charles to mix the sacred with the secular, to do what came 
"naturally" to Ray, and the artistic as well as commercial success of this 
controversial innovation spawned soul music.  The style was embraced by 
countless other singers, most with either formal or informal gospel 
backgrounds (Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Percy Sledge, OV Wright) and its 
cultural vitality was reflected in jazz as well, from Horace Silver's The 
Preacher, Jimmy Smith's The Sermon, Mingus's Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting 
(the album Blues'n'Roots having been encouraged by the Ertuguns at 
Atlantic), to Lee Morgan's The Rumproller.  I think it's also important to 
remember that soul music had huge significance for African American culture, 
that this distinctly black idiom was soon getting over with a mass audience, 
and that it's connection with the church gave it a substantial tie-in with 
the Civil Rights movement.

Gospel came with a very pronounced and dependable back beat, and soul 
reflects this.  Muddy Waters was working on something similar in his blues, 
which he characterized as having a "big drop after beat," precise "like a 
clock."  So the music definitely had a less elasticized rhythmic feel than 
what preceded it, and in turn it's had a strong influence on subsequent 
black dance music styles.

I don't agree that pre-r&b jazz was performed first and foremost with 
"artistic achievement" in mind, except in rare cases. There was a widespread 
populist instinct in jazz from early on, and the music generally straddled 
the line between musical integrity and commercial success once records began 
being made in the 1920's.  Happily, for a couple of decades, jazz was part 
of the mix that Americans bought and paid for, but the "hits" of that era 
were hardly the cream of the crop of the great records we appreciate in 
retrospect.  I'd say the arrival of the pure artist in jazz does not appear 
until Bebop, but it's not like Bird and Diz didn't seek commercial acclaim 
either.

As for that scene with Bird in the Eastwood movie, I've heard that 
criticized as not truly reflective of Parker's openness about music in 
general, that rather than mock a honking r&b tenor soloist he would have 
jammed with him-- and probably transposed keys to boot!

Tom Reney
"Jazz à la Mode"
Monday-Friday, 8-11 p.m.

WFCR 88.5 FM
NPR News and Music for Western New England
Hampshire House
131 County Circle
Amherst, MA 01003-9257

tr at wfcr.org
www.wfcr.org

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jae Sinnett" <jaejazz at yahoo.com>
To: <jazzproglist at jazzweek.com>
Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2008 12:33 PM
Subject: Re: [JPL] Jazz and RnB


> This week's sponsor:  Lisa Hilton
>
> Composer/pianist Lisa Hilton's latest release, ''Sunny Day Theory'' heads 
> to jazz radio next week.  Hilton is joined by top talent Lewis Nash on 
> drums, Larry Grenadier on bass and Brice Winston on tenor sax.  Eighteen 
> time Grammy winner, Al Schmitt recorded and mixed the 12 track release.
>
> What is the ''Sunny Day Theory''?  Hilton smiles, &amp;quot;My engineer 
> Larry Mah made me laugh recounting a 'Foggy Day Theory', so I countered 
> with a 'Sunny Day Theory' which basically assumes that difficulties, if 
> embraced honestly,  create opportunity for growth.  Life can be 
> challenging: I've realized after a rough year that the complex can be 
> dealt with one step at a time, that there can be depth in something as 
> simple as a melody, beauty within the blues, and that with tomorrow there 
> is always the hope for a sunny day.''
> LisaHiltonMusic.com
> ''Sunny Day Theory''/Ruby Slippers Productions promotion by Jane 
> Dashow/Jazzzdog.com
>
> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
>
> Tom, good points. You, Eric and Arturo would all be correct in that most 
> of what you discussed in your posts reflects the visionary variety and 
> unpredictability of great R&B music prior to when Jerry Wexler started 
> producing those classic Atlantic sides. In my view...and this was one of 
> my main points in my initial post about this... was that once Wexler 
> started producing there became a predictability and I'll even go as far to 
> say...an expectation of the sound from that point with most of 
> R&B...simply because the intentions of producing the music shifted. There 
> always was a swinging kind of elasticity in the rhythm of the music and 
> while played primarily for dancing there still was a high level of 
> improvisation and Duke's Newport classic reflects this. That started to 
> change though with Wexler and it affected jazz tremendously IMO.
>
> Obviously early so called R&B...although it wasn't termed that before 
> Wexler...was profoundly connected to jazz and visa versa. So my opinion 
> was if you take music that that was performed first and foremost from the 
> viewpoint of having an artistic achievement...and shifting those 
> intentions to now having a commercial success be your priority...it is 
> dumbing down the music. I'm reminded of the classic scene in "Bird" when 
> Parker walked into a theater and recognized a saxophonist from one of the 
> cutting sessions...playing this new kind of R&B and the placed was packed. 
> During their break Bird went in and stole the guys horn and ran. They 
> chased him and when caught he said..."I just wanted to see if this horn 
> could play in any key other than Bb."
>
> Jae Sinnett
>
>
> --- On Sun, 8/17/08, Tom Reney <tr at wfcr.org> wrote:
>
>> From: Tom Reney <tr at wfcr.org>
>> Subject: Re: [JPL] Jazz and RnB
>> To: jazzproglist at jazzweek.com
>> Date: Sunday, August 17, 2008, 12:03 PM
>> This week's sponsor:  Lisa Hilton
>>
>> Composer/pianist Lisa Hilton's latest release,
>> ''Sunny Day Theory'' heads to jazz radio
>> next week.  Hilton is joined by top talent Lewis Nash on
>> drums, Larry Grenadier on bass and Brice Winston on tenor
>> sax.  Eighteen time Grammy winner, Al Schmitt recorded and
>> mixed the 12 track release.
>>
>> What is the ''Sunny Day Theory''?  Hilton
>> smiles, &amp;quot;My engineer Larry Mah made me laugh
>> recounting a 'Foggy Day Theory', so I countered with
>> a 'Sunny Day Theory' which basically assumes that
>> difficulties, if embraced honestly,  create opportunity for
>> growth.  Life can be challenging: I've realized after a
>> rough year that the complex can be dealt with one step at a
>> time, that there can be depth in something as simple as a
>> melody, beauty within the blues, and that with tomorrow
>> there is always the hope for a sunny day.''
>> LisaHiltonMusic.com
>> ''Sunny Day Theory''/Ruby Slippers
>> Productions promotion by Jane Dashow/Jazzzdog.com
>>
>> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
>>
>> 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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