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Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?

GUEST,Joseph Scott 16 Aug 18 - 05:50 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 25 Jul 16 - 04:24 PM
Stringsinger 25 Jul 16 - 12:06 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 24 Jul 16 - 04:23 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 24 Jul 16 - 04:04 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 24 Jul 16 - 12:54 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 03 Jun 15 - 12:44 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 03 Jun 15 - 12:40 PM
GUEST,Etymologophile 02 Jun 15 - 08:23 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 02 Jun 15 - 07:11 PM
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GUEST,Joseph Scott 27 May 15 - 12:11 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 27 May 15 - 12:09 PM
GUEST 27 May 15 - 08:43 AM
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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 16 Aug 18 - 05:50 PM

"Ayer and Brown" I've learned more about Nat Ayer in his context in the last few years, and I think he likely was interested in and deliberately used 12-bar-blues music as such when he put together "Oh, You Beautiful Doll." The same applies to e.g. Lewis Muir's "When Ragtime Rosie Ragged The Rosary," 1911, in New York, and similarly with Chris Smith's "Monkey Rag," 1911, in Chicago. It seems that blues music hit New York, at all, before Handy published anything, and it seems that Les Copeland (a friend of Ayer's) and Muir would have been two of the earlier musicians to bring blues music to New York. Likely Baby Seals too. Muir was born in New York, played in St. Louis for years, and moved back to New York in 1910. He may have also been friendly with Ayer.

(Nat's younger brother Silas was known as a bandleader for Cornell dancers, and by 2/1917 had used "Homesickness Blues," "Bullfrog Blues," "Hawaiian Blues," "Rice Hotel Blues," and "Hesitation Blues.")


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 25 Jul 16 - 04:24 PM

"Another way is to show the musical influence from early blues forms and how they were used by New Orleans jazz musicians and chanteuses such as Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and others. These morphed into the early jazz and would be absent in this style were it not for an acknowledgement of earlier forms of the blues." I don't understand what you mean. Bessie Smith was an unknown when Buddy Bolden stopped playing, so she didn't influence his music.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 25 Jul 16 - 12:06 PM

Using documented recorded sources to identify the form known as the "blues" is one way to do it. Another way is to show the musical influence from early blues forms and how they were used by New Orleans jazz musicians and chanteuses such as Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and others. These morphed into the early jazz and would be absent in this style were it not for an acknowledgement of earlier forms of the blues. I would argue that branding in a style of music is often rigid and that music flows in variation and form through earlier influences of its practitioners. For example, one of the finest blues musicians who ever lived was Charlie "Yardbird" Parker who took the blues to a advanced musical art form. Blues scales morphed into be bop scales. Much of what we know of this music emanated from modal scales of West Africa and were transported over here during slavery. Here we see a dichotomy of approach, academic versus artistic, the former formalizing in a rigid pattern, the latter a growing, developing musical cell resulting in new forms and constantly changing.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 24 Jul 16 - 04:23 PM

Bolden, who liked folk music, apparently knew any blues because he apparently knew the blues song about the 2:19. Meanwhile, the idea that comic insult songs such as "Funky Butt" or happy songs about getting laid such as "Make Me A Pallet On The Floor" (both of those folk songs were known across the South) ought to be thought of as "blues" songs is pretty unmotivated. Generally speaking, writers on jazz of the '40s-'60s liked the idea that the earliest jazz was heavily influenced by blues, so they wrote that the earliest jazz was heavily influenced by blues. As for whether a performance of "High Society" really needed to be bluesy to be by one of the bands we think of as the jazz bands, of course not.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 24 Jul 16 - 04:04 AM

Well, I haven't read all the above, but Jelly Roll Morton said that, Buddy Bolden the first, but never recorded jazz great, was a blues player.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 24 Jul 16 - 12:54 AM

"Chicago Daily Tribune on July 11, 1915: Blues Is Jazz and Jazz Is Blues"

"Many people do not know that blues and jazz are not synonymous terms." -- Harry Pace (of Pace and Handy), born 1884 in Georgia, 1920 letter.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 12:44 PM

Hardie also wrote to me that the use of blue notes were important to what he considers Buddy Bolden's bluesiness. I think it's too little realized that the use of bent notes in black music as of about the 1890s was extremely widespread, and is an independent issue from which black songs someone like Frank Stokes, Sam Chatmon, Gary Davis, or Skip James would call "blues" songs in particular.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 12:40 PM

"- 'So by 1908 the public... called it 'blues'...' I don't know of any evidence that anyone was thinking there was a type of music they called 'blues' music before 1909. (What people called blues music, starting in about 1909, included songs that predated 1909.) Handy's 1926 book claims that the idea of blues music as a type of music was known in various states during the year 1910, but only arose shortly before 1910. The other evidence we have (Kid Love playing 'Easton Blues' in Texas in 1910, for instance) supports that book's claim."

<-- This quote is about the idea of quote "blues" music. We don't know of any examples of that from before 1909.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Etymologophile
Date: 02 Jun 15 - 08:23 PM

In that same post Lighter also cited:
1908   K. McGaffey Sorrows of Show Girl xiii. 157   He being a nervous party springs a blue note that got the musical director hysterical.

And in the post immediately before that Phil cited a 1915 newspaper article which quotes the pianist in a night club using the term "the blues" as a plural noun referring to blue notes:
"A blue note is a sour note," he explained. "It's a discord – a harmonic discord. The blues are never written into music, but are interpolated by the piano player or other players. They aren't new. They are just reborn into popularity. They started in the south half a century ago and are the interpolations of darkies originally. The trade name for them is "jazz."

Until those posts, the facts had showed that the term "blue note" wasn't used before 1913 and could not have been the source of the name of the musical genre that was called blues as early as 1910:
- People talked of "blue notes" in the 1910s in connection with what was already known as blues music.
- "So by 1908 the public... called it 'blues'..." I don't know of any evidence that anyone was thinking there was a type of music they called "blues" music before 1909. (What people called blues music, starting in about 1909, included songs that predated 1909.) Handy's 1926 book claims that the idea of blues music as a type of music was known in various states during the year 1910, but only arose shortly before 1910. The other evidence we have (Kid Love playing "Easton Blues" in Texas in 1910, for instance) supports that book's claim.
- What became known as "blue notes" in the 1910s, because writers were encountering and interested in blues music in particular...
- Page 2 of the 1913 edition of "The Memphis Blues" says "... Song Founded on W.C. Handy's World Wide 'Blue' Note Melody." That evidence of the use of the expression "blue note" is from several years after the earliest evidence of the idea of "blues" music, such as the 1910 article about Johnnie Woods.


As I said earlier in this thread, when something doesn't make sense it's a clue to me that I don't have all the facts.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 02 Jun 15 - 07:11 PM

"And if they had an actual source, in say 1897, why not say '1897' rather than '1890s'?"

Lighter cleared this mystery up in another thread.

"OED online:

1895   Kansas City Times 10 Dec. 4/4   At the beginning of their career..they found difficulty in keeping their instruments out of ear-splitting mischief. In the language of the 'profesor' they struck many a 'blue' note."


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 02 Jun 15 - 06:49 PM

Sam Chatmon: "'Making a pallet on the floor,' it's a blues type, but it ain't a blues."
Alan Lomax: "It kind of came before the blues."
Chatmon: "Uh-huh.... The first blues I heard... [went] 'I'm going down the river to jump and drown....' ... ['Pallet'] was about the first, second thing I learned...." (August 1978)

From Sam's jaunty version:
"... Just take one pillow off your featherbed and put it under your loving daddy's head.... He done sold his cotton...."


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 02 Jun 15 - 06:28 PM

I just came across something Dan Hardie, who runs the Buddy Bolden Revival Band, wrote me in 2002. Having read quite a lot about the early New Orleans musicians in Bolden's circle, he suggested that Bolden's two big "blues" tunes were "Funky Butt" (which was a comedy insult song) and "Make Me A Pallet On The Floor" (which was a song about getting laid). This just illustrates the issue that some people have defined "blues" more broadly than others (Alan Lomax being about as far out there as anybody when he included the "Crawdad Song" family).

Another interesting thing Hardie said: "One oral report suggested that diminished chords were not much used before the [New Orleans] musicians went on the riverboats around World War 1...." In my mind this ties in with the fact that if you research who the very earliest-born New Orleans ragtime-related guitarists are in e.g. _New Orleans Jazz: A Family Album_ by Rose and Souchon (e.g. Willie Santiago), their fairly simple approach to chords on record seems to have been quite similar to the folk guitarists.

For anyone who's interested, here is the Buddy Bolden Revival Band playing "Make Me A Pallet On The Floor," a happy song with bent notes in it, a combination that 1890s music was apparently full of:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xU1NtCome1A


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 27 May 15 - 12:11 PM

"Do you make any differentiation between the published 'Blues' compositions that you've listed and the blues that were played by artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Charlie Patton?" I bet ya everyone here does.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 27 May 15 - 12:09 PM

"Blues emanated from field hollers...." Among other things.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST
Date: 27 May 15 - 08:43 AM

When discussing any genre of music, it's imperative to talk about how one form evolves into another. It's also important to keep in mind that many of these definitions are marketing tools to sell recordings or sheet music to certain demographics.

Blues emanated from field hollers which were close to African chants employing regional African modalities and scale patterns. These were incorporated into what we now know of as the blues.

Like folk (and as part of it) blues is a process, not just a genre. It's incorporated into later forms of jazz by Charlie Parker and Wes Montgomery who were thoroughly steeped in that tradition.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST
Date: 26 May 15 - 09:09 PM

Do you make any differentiation between the published "Blues" compositions that you've listed and the blues that were played by artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Charlie Patton?


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 26 May 15 - 08:37 PM


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 26 May 15 - 12:22 PM

"out of place" In "a musical style that regularly features blue notes"?

Page 2 of the 1913 edition of "The Memphis Blues" says "... Song Founded on W.C. Handy's World Wide 'Blue' Note Melody." That evidence of the use of the expression "blue note" is from several years after the earliest evidence of the idea of "blues" music, such as the 1910 article about Johnnie Woods.

"But the earliest published compositions with the word 'blues' in the title have a different sound" Which compositions are you referring to?


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Etymologophile
Date: 21 May 15 - 01:40 PM

I didn't mean to say that a blue note sounds like a departure from the norm in a musical style that regularly features blue notes. That would be absurd.

I meant that a blue note sounds like a departure from the norm as compared to the other notes in the scale that it's used in. The other notes have a common relationship with each other. The blue note has a different relationship with the adjacent notes, and that difference can be heard, and the nature of that difference in sound makes it easy to think of the note itself as being sad and droopy, or dirty and off-color, or out of place like the sheep in the meadow and the cow in the corn.

And I didn't mean to say anything about black folk music. I'm not convinced that the name for blues music originally came from the perception of certain black folk music as a particularly sad musical style. That's not to say that the word "blues" didn't later come to be associated with a sad-sounding musical style that has much in common with some earlier black folk music. But the earliest published compositions with the word "blues" in the title have a different sound, and those compositions appear to be concurrent with the earliest use of the word "blues" to describe a musical style.

Often we don't understand the logic of something that has happened, especially if we assume that the facts we have are the only relevant ones. But there is always a logic, and the failure to see it is a clue to me that I don't have all the facts.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 21 May 15 - 12:48 PM

"But the song equates the moon's blue color with sadness." Blues music became a national fad in about 1916. Lorenz Hart had written the lyrics to "Blue Ocean Blues" (a new lyric for his own "Atlantic Blues") in the late '20s. When Hart came up with "Blue Ocean Blues," there were already "I've Got The Blue Ridge Blues" by Mason, Cooke, and Whiting (1918, eleven years after Maggio encountered a black guitarist who played a 12-bar number the guitarist called "I Got The Blues"), "Bluin' The Blues" by LaRocca, Shields, and Ragas (1918), "Blue Bird Blues" by Zerse (1920), "Blue Bell Blues" by Jerome and Goldstein (1920), "Blue Jay Blues" by Lada and Rizzo (1920), "Those Regretful Blues Always Makes Us Blue" by Smith and Huntington (1920), "Blue Sunday Blues" by Freeman (1920), "I'm Gonna Get The Blue Jazz Blues" by Ersfeld, Moriter, and Huntington (1921), "Blue Danube Blues" by Caldwell and Kern (1921), "Those Blue Law Blues" by Birdsall and Richard (1921), "Oh Don't Take Away Those Jakey Blue Blues" by LeVitre and Bernard (1921), "Blue Island Blues" by Hall, Geise, and O'Hara, "Blue Grass Blues" recorded by the Original Memphis Five, "Blue Blues" by McKenzie and Selvin, "Deep Blue Sea Blues" recorded by Clara Smith, "Blue Monday Blues" by DeSylva and Gershwin, "Blue Woman's Blues" recorded by Hattie Garland, "Black And Blue Blues" by Marsh and O'Brien, etc.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 21 May 15 - 11:23 AM

"... meaning a note that sounds sad or off-color or a departure from the norm..." Bent notes weren't a departure from the norm in black folk music, they were normal. Listen to a bunch of versions of "John Henry," for instance.

It didn't "make sense" for writers of the 1910s who didn't know all that much about black folk music in general to associate a characteristic of black secular and religious folk music in general with blues songs in particular, given that as of about 1908, only a fraction of secular black folk songs had been blues songs. But things often happen that don't make sense.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST
Date: 21 May 15 - 08:36 AM

Something like that happened with the 1934 song "Blue Moon." That expression traditionally meant a very rare astronomical phenomenon, and metaphorically any very rare occurrence. But the song equates the moon's blue color with sadness. When the problem causing the sadness is solved, the moon turns to gold.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Etymologophile
Date: 20 May 15 - 08:40 PM

Well, that's frustrating.

It would make so much more sense that way, with the blue note coming first, meaning a note that sounds sad or off-color or a departure from the norm, and then the expression "playing the blues" coming to be used as a shorthand way of saying playing the blue notes.

And then maybe being confused with the expression "sing the blues," so that people felt compelled to add sad lyrics to what were originally up-tempo instrumental pieces, and then to change the musical style to sound like moaning and whining.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 20 May 15 - 07:08 PM

"blue note n phr A flatted note of the sort common in blues music (1890s+ Musicians)" is the entire entry in the fourth edition, 2010.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Etymologophile
Date: 19 May 15 - 11:18 PM

Joseph: So you do have a copy of that book? Is there anything more to the entry than what was posted at the page I linked to?


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 19 May 15 - 05:17 PM

And if they had an actual source, in say 1897, why not say "1897" rather than "1890s"?


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 19 May 15 - 05:09 PM

"I don't have that book, so I can't confirm it or see if they give any evidence for that date." They don't.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Etymologophile
Date: 19 May 15 - 01:41 PM

I just found a web page that says that according to Harper Collins' Dictionary of American Slang the use of the term "blue note" to mean a flatted note of the sort common in blues music began in the 1890's:
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/blue+note
I don't have that book, so I can't confirm it or see if they give any evidence for that date.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 May 15 - 06:30 PM

When I was in elementary school, in the 1950's, I read an article about blues, in a special advanced reading class. Of course, at that time I had no idea what "the blues" meant. But I remember it said that if a European band heard there was an American in the club they would usually play the blues. And for guests from other countries they would play that country's national anthem. So some people got the idea that the blues was the US national anthem.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 18 May 15 - 02:55 PM

"Are blue notes featured as much in jazz as in blues?" No, but a lot. "And not used very much in other US American musical styles?" What became known as "blue notes" in the 1910s, because writers were encountering and interested in blues music in particular, were also common in non-blues music, such as gospel. Scales with notes not the same as on the piano were common in black and white folk music in the U.S., Africa, and Europe going way back.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 18 May 15 - 02:49 PM

"Since the word 'jazz' was a neologism in 1915, the writer can be excused for not making the same associations with it as you do."

The Indianapolis _Freeman_ began writing about "blues" music 63 months before that article. Before that article was published, more than 30 "Blues" tunes were published and/or copyrighted (all 30 of them after Maggio had already heard black guitar blues on a levee). If someone told that writer in 1915 that "jass band" and "blues band" meant the same thing in 1915 -- and perhaps some person up in _Chicago_ did say that -- on other evidence that person seems to have been wrong.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 18 May 15 - 12:14 PM

The short answer is "Yes". Beyond that, though, it's important to remember that blues is one of the primary components of jazz, so that it is a bit difficult to isolate one from the other. The same is true of the "other USAmerican musical styles"--blues and jazz elements are present in most American music, and that may be what makes it American music--


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 May 15 - 10:55 AM


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Etymologophile
Date: 17 May 15 - 10:32 AM

And another question: In my research I ran across Blue Note Records and the Blue Note music club in New York, both of which are apparently jazz institutions. Are blue notes featured as much in jazz as in blues? And not used very much in other USAmerican musical styles? But perhaps in musical styles found in other cultures?


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Etymologophile
Date: 17 May 15 - 10:24 AM

Thanks for the reference to the Wikipedia article. Very interesting! It also had a quote from a 1913 article which included a pre-musical definition of "jazz" and a confirmation that it was a new word at that time.

After reading that article and many others on the same subject, I think I see a kind of consensus on the history of the word "jazz":
- the word first appeared in print in 1912 in California, meaning "energy, spirit, spunk," in connection with baseball;
- it appears to have been a new word at that time;
- the word was used in print in that sense many times before it was ever used in print to describe music;
- the expression "jazz it up" is based on that sense, and was used commonly before the word was used in print to apply to music (which to me suggests that the expression might have led to the word being applied to that particular musical style, and it might also explain the 1915 writer's association of "jazz" with "blues");
- there was probably a concurrent and possibly earlier underground meaning that referred in some way to sex (as is the case with the word "spunk");
- it may have evolved from the much older words "jasm" and "jism," both of which probably had approximately the same set of meanings that "jazz" had before it was applied to music;
- it's first found in print in connection with music in Chicago in the 1915 article cited in the earlier post.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 May 15 - 09:04 PM

jazz me blues.....?


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 16 May 15 - 06:38 PM

Since the word "jazz" was a neologism in 1915, the writer can be excused for not making the same associations with itas you do.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 16 May 15 - 03:15 PM

"not withstanding Joseph's claim, it seems to indicate that Blues had been around for a long time before 1910" I consider the "Got No More Home Than A Dog" that Handy said he heard about 15 years before 1910 to be blues music. No one was _calling_ music like that "blues music" until about 1909.

If the author of the July 11, 1915 Chicago piece actually thought "Blues Is Jazz and Jazz Is Blues," he didn't know much about the music: about how "High Society" as played by Alphonse Picou differed from "All Out And Down" as played by Mance Lipscomb, for instance.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST
Date: 16 May 15 - 01:47 PM

Here's a quote culled fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz_(word). I will point out that, not withstanding Joseph's claim, it seems to indicate that Blues had been around for a long time before 1910-

Jazz began to be applied to music in Chicago, around 1915. The earliest known attestation, found by Yale Book of Quotations editor Fred R. Shapiro, is from the Chicago Daily Tribune on July 11, 1915:

Blues Is Jazz and Jazz Is Blues . . . The Worm had turned – turned to fox trotting. And the "blues" had done it. The "jazz" had put pep into the legs that had scrambled too long for the 5:15. . . . At the next place a young woman was keeping "Der Wacht Am Rhein" and "Tipperary Mary" apart when the interrogator entered. "What are the blues?" he asked gently. "Jazz!" The young woman's voice rose high to drown the piano. . . . The blues are never written into music, but are interpolated by the piano player or other players. They aren't new. They are just reborn into popularity. They started in the south half a century ago and are the interpolations of darkies originally. The trade name for them is "jazz." . . . Thereupon "Jazz" Marion sat down and showed the bluest streak of blues ever heard beneath the blue. Or, if you like this better: "Blue" Marion sat down and jazzed the jazziest streak of jazz ever. Saxophone players since the advent of the "jazz blues" have taken to wearing "jazz collars," neat decollate things that give the throat and windpipe full play, so that the notes that issue from the tubes may not suffer for want of blues – those wonderful blues.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 16 May 15 - 01:12 PM

"cheerful" "Dallas Blues" "Saint Louis Blues"

"St. Louis Blues" and "Dallas Blues" have sad lyrics. ("Dallas Blues" was originally an instrumental, and had lyrics added in 1918.)

I don't know of any evidence that Ayer and Brown thought of "Oh You Beautiful Doll" as a blues number, and Ayer's use of the 12-bar form in part of it could have been inspired by a 12-bar blues he heard or a 12-bar non-blues he heard.

"Memphis Blues" was published as an instrumental in 1912, and words were added to it the following year by a guy who didn't know Handy, as far as we know didn't know much about blues music, and seemed to be more or less trying to write another "Alexander's Ragtime Band."

"So by 1908 the public... called it 'blues'..." I don't know of any evidence that anyone was thinking there was a type of music they called "blues" music before 1909. (What people called blues music, starting in about 1909, included songs that predated 1909.) Handy's 1926 book claims that the idea of blues music as a type of music was known in various states during the year 1910, but only arose shortly before 1910. The other evidence we have (Kid Love playing "Easton Blues" in Texas in 1910, for instance) supports that book's claim.

We don't know why the first edition of Hoffmann's "I'm Alabama Bound" gave the alternative title "The Alabama Blues," but "I'm Alabama Bound" was a cousin of the blues songs, so maybe that had to do with it. In general it was very rare to refer to "Alabama Bound" as "The Alabama Blues," but note the claim in print by Harrison Smith, who knew Jelly Roll Morton and was born in 1893, that "Jelly did not write... Don't You Leave Me Here (Alabama Blues)," and also note the chord progression of the first strain of "Alabama Blues" by the Three Stripped Gears (composer credit to the band's mandolinist Ralph Durden, who was likely born in Fulton County, GA in about 1897).


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: Will Fly
Date: 16 May 15 - 04:52 AM

That would explain why the people on the radio 30 years ago didn't want to give the derivation.

Which radio would that be? Thirty years ago dates to around 1985, and jazz broadcasters like Humphrey Lyttelton were quite at home discussing the origins of the word jazz on radio and television at that time.

Now, if you'd said sixty years ago...

I've always understood, rightly or wrongly, that "jass" - the original version of "jazz" - was indeed a euphemism for sexual intercourse. Nowadays it's a computer scripting language. O tempora! O Mores!


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Etymologophile
Date: 15 May 15 - 06:59 PM

That would explain why the people on the radio 30 years ago didn't want to give the derivation. Maybe it's related to jism?


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 May 15 - 05:23 PM

i read some where that jazz was a colloquial expression meaning sexual intercourse.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Etymologophile
Date: 15 May 15 - 04:34 PM

So by 1908 the public already knew blues music, and thought of it as sad music, and called it "blues" for that reason, but
Maggio and Hoffman and others* nevertheless composed upbeat cheerful music either using that form, incorporating that word in the title, or both?

* for example:
Hart Wand - Dallas Blues 1912
Artie Matthews - Weary Blues 1915
W.C. Handy - Memphis Blues 1912 and Saint Louis Blues 1914
Ferd Morton - Jelly Roll Blues 1915
Seymour Brown and Nat D. Ayer - Oh, You Beautiful Doll 1911


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 15 May 15 - 03:09 PM

"I'm still having a problem with the cheerful nature of the music itself...." Gus Cannon and Emmet Kennedy both recalled that, in different regions, they encountered variants of "Poor Boy Long Ways From Home" before 1906. That's not cheerful stuff, and it's from before Maggio heard a black guitarist perform a number the guitarist called "I Got The Blues," which Maggio then adapted as a strain in one of his own pieces.

Maggio, leader of a band, heard a blues and incorporated it into a dance piece. In general dance pieces interested Maggio more than blues did. Ragtime was seen as something that sold huge as of 1908 -- and the same was still true in 1911 and 1914 when Chris Smith and W.C. Handy issued their blues "Monkey Rag" and "Yellow Dog Rag" under those titles.

Most black folk music of 1900-1909 was not blues music. Read Charles Peabody, the Thomas brothers, Howard Odum, Anne Hobson, E.C. Perrow, etc. to see that. "Skillet Good And Greasy" wasn't a blues, "John Henry" wasn't a blues, "This Morning This Evening So Soon" wasn't a blues, "You Shall" wasn't a blues, "Lost John" wasn't a blues, etc. etc.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Etymologophile
Date: 15 May 15 - 12:11 PM

Thanks for the info on the meaning of the word "blues" in lyrics. It looks like "I've got the blues" meant pretty much the same thing in the first two decades of the 20th century as it means today, i.e. "I'm sad or depressed and maybe feeling beaten and abused by the world." And it apparently has always meant, that whether it's used in a blues song or in some other type of song or in any other spoken or written language. Though not exclusive to African-Americans, that feeling has been a major part of their experience since the first slave ships brought them here.

I can also accept that "singing the blues" can be similar to "crying the blues," i.e. complaining about the aforesaid emotional state and/or its causes. But I'm still having a problem with the cheerful nature of the music itself, often with no lyrics at all, and the idea that people would have called that style of music something that means "the sad feelings." That applies not just to early blues tunes and other compositions with "blues" in the title, but also to the earlier unpublished African-American music that was apparently the source of that style. I think the music, at least in those early and formative periods, was more often happy party music. It also included some sad-sounding music with sad lyrics, but even then it wasn't as depressing as a lot of other music of that time.

Consider "I Got the Blues," by Antonio Maggio, a dance tune with no lyrics, published in New Orleans in 1908. Listen to it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta3zrj1BXxY. Does that sound like he's sad?

Or "I'm Alabama Bound," sub-titled "Rag-Time Two-Step, also known as the Alabama Blues" and "Respectfully dedicated to all those who have the blues," by Robert Hoffman, published in New Orleans in 1909. Listen to it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GH_8x3ezI2g

If there's any connection between that music and feeling sad, it's that the music can lift your spirits and make you stop feeling sad. But that can be said about any music.

It's unfortunate that the term "blue note" is a later development, because that's a case where it would make sense. I can see how a blue note could be described as an individual note that's sad or depressed, even if it's used in a cheerful melody, and it would make sense to use the term "blues" to describe a composition featuring blue notes prominently.

And I could see using the term "blues music" to mean the music of African-Americans, because it would mean the music of a people with good reason to be depressed all the time, even if they overcome that depression with their music. But blues isn't the only kind of African-American music that the general public knows about, and wasn't at that time, right?

And what about jazz? No ideas about where that word came from? I don't have a clue. It's interesting that the words "blues" and "jazz" have similar sounds. Could "jazz" be a corrupted spelling of some plural noun?


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: Joe_F
Date: 14 May 15 - 09:07 PM

Guest (What about etymology?): "The blues" in the sense of depressed spirits goes back to the 18th century. It was originally short for "blue devils"; there was a tradition that being depressed was the result of being attacked by blue devils. I have seen an old cartoon showing the process.

The people who sang the blues must surely have been aware of that meaning from the beginning, tho of course once the term became the name of a musical genre it might easily have been broadened. In particular, in lines of the form "I've got those X blues", X (AFAIK) is always something depressing.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 14 May 15 - 12:53 PM

Here are more examples of variations on that "... blues but too damned mean to cry" lyric:

Included in a speech bubble over a cartoon of bluesman Butler May in a 1914 newspaper, but as "Got de blues but I ain't gwine to cry."

Photos of May:

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=121243192

Heard by Cammilla Breazeale of Louisiana, included in Scarborough 1925. (There were a mother and daughter named Cammilla Breazeale in Natchitoches, born in 1865 and about 1890.)

Heard by Henry Francis Parks in "the southwest," included in Sandburg 1926. Parks was from Kentucky, born in about 1895, and he spent years in Montana and in Illinois, but he lived and performed in Texas in 1916. (He moved from El Paso to Butte in 1917.)


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 14 May 15 - 11:53 AM

"The simplest answer is that we tend to favor groupings of three." Early-born jazz musicians didn't.

http://playing-traditional-jazz.blogspot.com/2014/05/sixteen-bar-tunes-in-traditional-jazz.html

http://playing-traditional-jazz.blogspot.com/2014/04/how-to-play-traditional-jazz-do-it.html

Handy described 16-bar strains as "conventional," and recalled that his would-be publishers of blues (as of roughly 1911) complained to him that a 12-bar strain sounded incomplete. That's because as jazz grew out of ragtime, 16-bar strains a la Joplin continued to be routinely used.

That's 16-bar strains in general I'm talking about, not normal 16-bar blues in particular, such as "One Dime Blues" by Lemon. For instance, "Do What Ory Say" has a repetitive chord progression, is 16-bar, and is not a blues.


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Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 14 May 15 - 01:16 AM

The simplest answer is that we tend to favor groupings of three.


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