By: Allen Newsom
Jazz blues is a musical style that combines both jazz and blues. Jazz, blues, and popular music all got their start in back rooms, clubs, honky-tonks, and in the underground or subculture environments. The histories of jazz, blues, and popular music are intertwined, and the styles often inspire each other. Today, both forms are closely associated and are often combined into a fusion of the two aptly named Jazz blues.
Blues songs are a core component of Jazz blues and have been a highly expressive, predominantly vocal tradition which expressed the stories and emotions of African-Americans at the beginning of the 20th century. Most blues songs usually include words which form a three-line stanza. These are bop songs, but they are blues songs as well. Even songs that are not blues songs, tends to use quite a few blues licks.
Jazz musicians-the people who have educated themselves and who make a living on their own terms despite the odds with all the risks it takes to make this your living, are seen to be outside the system. In the 1970s, many jazz musicians experimented with electronic instruments and created a blend of rock and jazz called fusion.
Harlem in the 1920s was a scene of unprecedented creativity for the country's best jazz musicians. Some of the greatest jazz players in all of history got their start in the clubs of Kansas City. Not too many contemporary jazz players can say even though a host of the greatest jazz players have performed there.
Great jazz artists, like all important artists, derive their styles from their predecessors. Early in the twentieth century, jazz bands became increasingly popular accompaniments for a new, faster style of social dancing. New artistic possibilities emerged as jazz bands grew in size during the decade of the twenties. Ragtime, boogaloo, and bebop are just a few of the cool styles of jazz music.
Blues itself and its importance in jazz music need no comments. To say it has heralded its way into the hearts and minds of all music lovers is an understatement. Blues Jazz starts with the steady beat and classic chord structure of the blues and laces it with instrumental improvisation. From the blues, jazz incorporated call and response, improvisation, and the emphasis on vocal sound, which is replicated by jazz instrumentation.
Bands and performers are usually local acts in a variety of genres including blues, jazz, rock, and folk. Their music may be blues, jazz, country, classical, gospel, rock 'n roll, rhythm and blues, or popular. Artists with backgrounds in these styles typically incorporate jazz improvisation into numbers with classic three-chord blues structures. This twelve-bar blues pattern may be the base of rock 'n' roll. However, blues has grown well on its own merit and was around way before rock of any form.
Many blues guitarists have had instantly recognizable tones. Such is the case of the most famous of all blues guitarists, B.B. King. He is known as a hard-hitting singer, guitarist, and songwriter. And is arguably the most creative artist of today's blues guitarists. In like manner, he meets the criterion of a "guitar cousin" for sure.
The Jazz and Blues genres have become inseparable and are intertwined in the best of ways. Whether its pure jazz, blues, or improvisation, it will forever shape the hearts and minds of those who take the time to enjoy it. What an untold influence the artists of these music styles have had on music throughout time.