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But it was a candid. Some say vulgar but I can say this with some degree of surety. I've never had a vulgar folk blues so I have heard many vulgar commercialized blues. The current name for some of the songs in that category in commercial record circles these days is rhythm and blues signs but not all rhythm and blues songs. Even now I have been burglarized Here's a recent recording by Wynonie Harris who is a favorite in that field. That is quite close to the deeply honest blues of the early pre-Civil War South. With regard to the candor of the early blues
Here's a relevant passage from another English writer on the blues and Lang. If however many blues are complaints of unrequited or unsatisfied love as many are Frank's celebrations of satisfaction the frankness is important cultivated persons agree that the sexual life of say the trouble in the Islanders may be discussed in the minute detail and as publicly as you please. Diffidence creeps in when the subject of study is part of our Western social organisation. But it is remarkable that in our own kind of world subject to taboos of this sort there were still people able to make simple and direct statements about love and the loss of life as Billie Holiday illustrates. No.
No. No. No. God.
You. Know me. President playing blues songs by contemporary singers like Billie Holiday was not a folk singer but a sophisticated jazz vocalist. My chronology is considerably advanced from the point in the evolution of jazz where the blues began to evolve but I wanted to illustrate as I shall again shortly the blues elements that still survive not only vocally but as well later see in the
section on modern jazz how the blues are an important part of what used to be called Bach. But what musicians prefer to call contemporary jazz. There are all kinds of blues. There are for example the songs of dismissal. There are songs about fighting an evil man and a fire and battle a
personal blows that reflect the divisions within the Negro people as in this song by the greatest of all the blues singers Bessie Smith the young woman blues. No no.
Irony is part of almost all the blues and much of the blues are topical
supplying commentary on political economic kinds of developments regional floods as well as neighborhood incidents and poverty. Josh writes Hard Times blues which some of you may have seen used as a background as a basis rather for a very moving and very brilliant choreographic pattern by Paul prettiness. Thank.
You. And tensions of the 1950s. Here is the contemporary. To all women.
We're all so. So so when it did. But. Now the blues can be intensely tender as in this
song by Joe Turner. We may need moves. Yeah. Has Barry Ulanov wrote in his history of jazz in America the blues as a form
complete in itself. Whatever its clearly marked origins especially notable for its balance of intense feeling and attachment it has been the most enduring and persuasive of jazz forms. But has long struck me especially about the verbal blues and let me point out that although our examples so far have been vocal the blues tradition has manifested instrumental in his will soon see. What struck me was the poetry of the blues with a sharp grasp of metaphor the compactness and direct striking power of the images and the freshness of the vocabulary. Compare these blues. And what their antecedents must have been around a thousand sixteen hundred seventy nine thousand eighty with a kind of poetry that was produced in America in the late 19th century until the Chicago group and the like. And of course the blues in addition to the freshness of the vocabulary contained the rhythmically musical flexible meter. Lyrics like I've got the world in a jug. I got the stopper in my hand
got the world in a Juggalo and got the stopper in my hand. And if you want me you're going to come under my command. Now my woman's got to hide like a rock cast down in the sea. I woman's got to hide like a rock cast down in the sea she imagines she can love everybody and mistreat poor me. And I was a rough town of Black Mountain. Bessie Smith sings about what even the birds sang bass. Listen to the simple but immensely moving imagery in Bessie Smith's description the lyrics of which she wrote herself of The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 during which 700000 lost their homes. The back water blues and. And let me point out that even today there are very few
descendants of the basic blues singer is the guy that used to tramp through the South after the Civil War men like Temple read Big Bill Broonzy who has toured through most of Europe singing his blues and men like Tommy McLennan. You have been listening to the evolution of jazz. I recorded prepared and produced by
Nat Hentoff under the auspices of Northeastern University and presented by the Lao Institute co-operative broadcasting Council. The evolution of jazz was recorded in the Boston studios of WGBH Af-Am. Education already at work.
The Evolution of Jazz
Episode Number
Origin of the Blues, Part Two
Producing Organization
WGBH Educational Foundation
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the second of two parts, explores the origin of the blues, a crucial building block for jazz music.
Series Description
Jazz historian Nat Hentoff presents a series that traces the history of jazz, from its musical and cultural roots to its contemporary forms. "The Evolution of Jazz" was originally broadcast from WGBH in 1953-1954, and was re-broadcast by the National Educational Radio Network in 1964.
Broadcast Date
Asset type
African Americans--Music--20th century--History and criticism.
Media type
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Host: Hentoff, Nat
Producer: Hentoff, Nat
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-32-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:23
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Chicago: “The Evolution of Jazz; 5; Origin of the Blues, Part Two,” 1953-12-04, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 13, 2024,
MLA: “The Evolution of Jazz; 5; Origin of the Blues, Part Two.” 1953-12-04. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 13, 2024. <>.
APA: The Evolution of Jazz; 5; Origin of the Blues, Part Two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from