History Of Blues And Jazz Music
Blues, a musical genre that started in the late 1800s by the southern Afro-American communities, takes its roots in work songs, chants, hollers, shouts and ballads. Some of the most famous blues categories are Delta, Piedmont, Chicago and Jump blues. The first ever recording by and African American singer was performed by Mamie Smith, after two other artists performing archaic blues – Henry Thomas.
An influence to many music styles throughout the years, like rhythm & blues, jazz and rock’n’roll, blues has been described as being more than music, a state of spirit. Such is the passion of the blues artists, that this state of spirit is the one that defines its deep lyrics and guitar solos.
Blues has been used to express feelings by artists such as:
– Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton and Son House (founders of Delta blues)
– Blind Lemon Jefferson, Bo Carter and Lonnie Johnson (country blues)
– Blind Willie McTell and Blind Boy Fuller (Piedmont blues)
– Memphis Minnie, Sleepy John Estes and Frank Stokes (Memphis blues)
– Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Mamie Smith and Victoria Spivey (classic female urban blues)
– Big Bill Broonzy, Tampa Red, Nat “King” Cole and Leroy Carr (male urban blues)
– Jimmy Yancey, Clarence “Pine Top” Smith, Professor Longhair and Dr. John (smooth boogie-woogie)
– Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, B.B. King and John Lee Hooker (modern blues school).
The word “jazz” was first used to describe Chicago music around 1915. In the beginning of the 1900s, the African American population began to develop a new style of music, which we now call Jazz. From its creation, jazz incorporated a multitude of influences, from European to African traditional music.
The African core of this music style is found in the use of swung notes, improvisation, syncopation and blue notes. The first official style to connect to what we know as jazz is Ragtime, well represented by Scott Joplin, Tom Turpin and William H. Krell, which lead to W.C. Handy’s “Memphis Blues” and “St. Louis Blues”, that went on to become icon songs in the jazz style.
The next step in jazz evolution was New Orleans Music, a subgenre that appeared around Basin Street’s hotels, bars and brothels, one of the main milestones of early jazz. Acknowledged by many as the first (of what went on to become) jazz group, The Bolden Band played in New Orleans around 1900. Sadly there were no actual recordings left, but some of the band’s creations lived through other artists’ work.
Some of the most prominent figures in jazz history were The Original Dixieland Jass Band, Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson.