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.
In the beginning it was a renaming of "race" music, which 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."
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Jump Blues

Jump blues is an up-tempo, jazz tinged  style of blues, usually played by small groups, usually featuring a vocalist in front of a large, horn - driven orchestra with less reliance on guitar work than other styles. Jump blues evolved from the music of big bands such as those of Lionel Hampton and Lucky Millender. These bands of the early 1940s produced musicians such as Louis Jordan, Jack McVea, Earl Bostic, and Arnett Cobb. As this urban, jazz-based music became more popular, both bluesmen and jazz musicians who wanted to "play for the people" began favoring a heavy, insistent beat.  It was popular in the 1940s and was a precursor of rhythm and blues and rock and roll.

Tiny Bradshaw

Earl Bostic

Roy Brown

Arnett Cobb

Louis Jordan

Jack McVea

Amos Milburn

Roy Milton

Jimmy McCracklin

Johnny Otis

The genesis of R&B is also linked to the stablishment of independent labels record labels such as those below:

Aladdin Apollo King Modern Savoy Speciality

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 Hucklebuck."

Bridges from swing to rhythm and blues

Count Basie

Cab Calloway

Lionel Hampton

Buddy Johnson

Lucky Millender

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.

Blues  Shouters

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.

H. Bomb Ferguson

Wynonie Harris 

Duke Henderson

Jimmy Rushing

Jimmy Rushing

Joe Turner

Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson

Jimmy Witherspoon

Instrumentalists, especially saxophones, played a promenient role in post-war rhythm and blues.

The Honkers

King Curtis Ben "Bull Moose" Jackson Willis "Gatortail" Jackson Big Jay McNeeley Wild Bill Moore
Big Al Sears Hal Singer Sam "The Man" Taylor Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson Paul Williams

King Curtis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002

The Guitarists

Mickey Baker Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown Pee Wee Crayton Lowell Fulson Johnny "Guitar" Watson


The Women

LaVern Baker
Inducted into Rock Hall in 1991
Hadda Brooks
Ruth Brown
Inducted into the Rock Hall in 1993
Vanetta Dillard
Julia Lee
Nellie Lutcher
Mabel "Big Maybelle" Smith
Dinah Washington
Inducted into the Rock Hall in  1992


Blue Eyed R&B

Frankie Laine

Ella Mae Morse

Kay Starr

Johnnie Ray

The decline of the blues shouters coincided with the riseof the male harmony groups.

Doo Wop

Pre Doo-Wop 1930-1945
Inspirational Groups

Transistional 1946-1951
Transitional Groups

Emergence of Doo-Wop 1952-1953
Dance Oriented Groups

Convergence of Styles 1954
Regional Style Groups

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