Rhythm and Blues

Rhythm and Blues is a descriptive term that has never had a clear single meaning. In it's broadest sense, R&B denotes black pop music. However, as black pop music changes, it has become a term that is often defined by whatever black musical style it is attached to at a given point in time, rather than the other way around.bar.gif (3285 bytes)

In the beginning it was a renaming of "race" music. and later gave way to soul, funk, disco and simply "black" styles. Small rhythm and blues combos revved up Tin Pan Alley pop tunes with rhythms derived from swing jazz and vocals reflecting the blues. They linked the big band jump blues of the Forties with early rock and roll. Early rock and roll hits were often covers by white singers of R&B hits, like Elvis Presley's version of Roy Brown's "Good Rockin' Tonight" or Bill Haley and His Comets cleaned-up take on Big Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle and Roll."

Jump Blues

Uptempo, jazz - tinged blues, usually featuring a vocalist in front of a large, horn - driven orchestra with less reliance on guitar work than other styles.

Blues  Shooters

Blues shouters developed their raucous style in order to be heard above the big bands of the'30s and '40s. Even in the country blues style that preceded them "shouting" was a way of expressing deep emotion. This raspy, strident vocal style matched in intensity the big band style. Representatives of the shouter tradition included Big Joe Turner, Wynonie Harris, and Roy Brown.

Jump Blues Artists

blueredball.gif (900 bytes) Tiny Bradshaw blueredball.gif (900 bytes) Roy Brown blueredball.gif (900 bytes) Wynonie Harris 
blueredball.gif (900 bytes) Louis Jordan blueredball.gif (900 bytes) Big Joe Turner blueredball.gif (900 bytes) Jimmy Yancey

With the ending of the Swing Era the big bands broke into smaller units, jazz and blues going their separate ways to bebop units and dance house R&B "jump blues" bands that played music with a big dance beat and broad appeal. The jump bands began as smaller versions of the swing bands, consisting of a rhythm section and a couple horns that played hard driving riffs and solos over blues progressions, and a boogie derived bass and beat.The overall rhythm accented the backbeats. The featured soloists were usually sax players that who abandoned the finesse of jazz for a wailing sax that matched the energy of the music.

Count Basie and Lionel Hampton bands were important bridges between swing and R&B. Basie's 1937 "One O'Clock Jump" and Hampton's 1942 "Flying Home" were signs of things to come. Roy Milton's "R.M. Blues and Joe Liggin's "The Honeydripper" released in 1945, both sold a million copies, signally a re-vitalized  "race" and a white audience for this music. Other important records were Roy Brown's 1947 "Good Rockin' Tonight," The Hucklebuck" by a number of artists and Jimmy Liggins' 1950 "The Shufflebuck."

Louis Jordan realaud2.jpg (1016 bytes) samplings. Look on the page under reviews.