Jazz: Still Got the Blues?

The interaction between Blues and Jazz can be discerned when the origins of both music are scrutinized. The development of one is hidden in the roots of one another and both use similar sound patterns for instance. In this paper the readers will be presented a brief history of Blues & Jazz within the similarities of the two.

If we trace back to the history of Blues music, the impact of African-American tradition is seen quite apparently. Blues music evolved from the songs sung by West African griots, the southern Black American songs of sadness and despair, and more hopeful Christian spirituals. It originated in the rural Mississippi Delta region at the beginning of 20th century.

Similarly, Jazz music emerged as a blend of African-American rituals; the features carried from West African Black folk music developed in the Americas, joined with European music of the late 18th and 19th centuries and turned out to be the minor voicing characteristics of the Blues. Jazz emerged in New Orleans and was characterized by strong but flexible rhythms.

Blues had its most brilliant years in America by the end of WWI. The American troops brought the Blues home with them, which they learned from the Southern Whites who had been exposed to the blues. After WWII, Blues had a different experience by the well-known Blues musicians as B.B. King and Buddy Guy by "amplifying guitar" and "emphasized drums"; thus created intensified sounds in Blues, the collection of which later called to be the "Electric Blues".(Herman) This kind of Blues had a great deal of resemblance to Jazz music due to the increased drum beats.

Unlike Blues, Jazz music, experienced hard times during 1970\'s. While Blues rose owing to the contributions of Elvis Pressley and Bill Halley who transformed rhythm & Blues into Rock\'n Roll, Jazz stayed so far away from this frenzy and faced several troubles, which gave way to the foundation of the new Fusion School of Jazz.

Today, Blues has developed into a major force in contemporary music through the rock-edge style of Robert Cray, as well as roots-oriented jazz by musicians associated with Wynton Marsalis, the zydeco sound, and some rap groups. Likewise jazz music has had its impact on modern music and it maintains its role as a universal music over its interaction with different music. This interaction has formed several genres like Ragtime, Soul Jazz, Fusion, Acid Jazz, Groove, Smooth Jazz, and Post Bop. During the 1980\'s Jazz music continued on a somewhat lateral direction with a multitude of influences, the most significant of which is a retro surfacing of its own roots and styles.

The most noteworthy aspect of Blues is its being rather national than Jazz, which is an international phenomenon. That is not to say Blues music was popular only in America, yet Jazz styles significantly evolved with a necessity characteristic of any true art form; it was adopted internationally as a universal true art form.

Although Jazz emerged after Blues was already popular in America and had a "vital influence" on subsequent Jazz", the recording of Blues relies on "the initial popularity of Jazz". According to Robert M. Baker, this gave way to the absorption of Blues into both Jazz and the mainstream of pop music. (Internet)

The similarity between Blues and Jazz began to occur "during 1930\'s and 1940\'s when T-Bone Walker in Houston and B.B. King combined Jazz techniques with Blues tonality and repertoire."(Rolling Stone Encyclopedia, 53) Furthermore, Blues chord progression, which consists of various intermediate chords, and even some substitute chord patterns called as twelve-bar blues are also used by Jazz instrumentalists as a basis for extended improvisations.

As for the differences, the prominent difference between Blues and jazz is that Blues is distinguished by jazz with its slow tempo, melancholy lyrics, and use of a guitar or piano. Moreover, the signal feature of Jazz music is its inclusion of both solo and ensemble improvisations on basic tunes and chord patterns.

As apparent, Blues and Jazz has several points in common. Correspondingly, it is interesting to discover that as a genre originated from Blues, Jazz at its height, rendered it possible for Blues to be recorded. While laying out these similarities and differences, one should bear in mind that "The Blues is neither