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Blues Roots

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  • ROBERT R. CALDER
    Blind Willie McTell gets credited with high intelligence, and why not. When he was interviewed for the Library of Congress in 1940 he spoke of the time when
    Message 1 of 12 , Jul 30, 2009
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      Blind Willie McTell gets credited with high intelligence, and why not. When he was interviewed for the Library of Congress in 1940 he spoke of the time when "the blues became original" and referred this to the sort of craze for "blues" initiated by Mamie Smith's frst record.  He also mentioned the lack of the subsequent distance between music played by whites and music played by folks now called African-American.
      Now it does seem that when commercial recording units went down south in the 1920s, or for instance guitarists were brought into studios in the North, blues was what was wanted.
      For various cultural reasons including where the slave ancestors came from in Africa (read Marshall Stearns) and also the culture of the white populations, East Coast music tended to be strongly rhythmic and harmonically not so remote from Bach, whereas in non-Protestant territory the music of solo performers was different. It seems to have become even more differentwith the passage of time. Mississippi John Hurt wasn't a geographical anomaly, he was a songster in the older style, and had a set repertoire in which blues played a smaller part; and a style less affected by blues or bluesiness.
      The same can be said of Rabbit Brown and Henry Thomas and indeed Cowboy Roy Brown, born 1875 and recorded c.1960 -- though the tapes were issued by Delmark only a few years ago. Cowboy Roy just played the songs he'd been singing for a living, including recent popsongs. Songsters recordd in the 1920s featured published songs from the ragtime era.
      I don't know whether Charlie Patton played anything raggy of the sort you would expect of East Coast or Piedmont, but certainly the prodigious Richard "Hacksaw" Harney did when he was taped a little less than 40 years ago, and even Johnny Shines played a little of that  when he was recorded informally. Robert Johnson recorded one ragtimey number, and so did Blind Lemon Jefferson. It would seem fair to assume that Johnson and Jefferson were recorded for the market and featured only (with these singular exceptions) the blues side of their possible repertoires.
      Bill Broonzy and Memphis Minnie had a simil;ar guitar style, Broonzy actually sounds a bit like Blind Blake, from Georgia but long settled in Detroit and in Chicago. The difference is in the simplified bass line, which gets away from the ragtimey into a different sort of swing.
       
      There does seem to have been a shift even in New Orleans, from a squarer ragtimey style of horn playing toward something bluesier and hotter. In some respects I would think Bunk Johnson went through a transition like that the New York musicians did in the middle 1920s when King Oliver and Louis Armstrong etc. became influences. In the New Orleans of the young Bunk the bluesier elements of what entirely unschooled performers were doing came into Ragtime, and produced the sort of thing King Oliver was doing,. The amazing thing is how far Bunk and the North Eastern musicians with whom he recorded late in his career when he formed that band with Bushell et al, were pretty well at one, Like them he had a more European background but had learned the same lessons. 
       
      As for John Lee Hooker, he has things in common with amateur musicians such as might have been heard in New Orleans playing something very African, which is to say (as Lightnin Hopkins did!) that Hooker never learned to play guitar (unlike Robert Johnson, who certainly learned a lot from Lonnie Johnson records too). Hooker however picked up without any orthodox schooling or even learning any chords, the developed post-Johnson post-Patton blues he could hear around him and on record.
      There is nothing ancient about Hooker's style, which rather than being developed on a banjo or proto banjo was developed pretty well on electric guitar, and the difference can be heard on the recordings he made on acoustic instruments, even the tape unearthed within the past ten years or so, where he sang and played acoustic guitar for a white fan's tape recorder in the late 1940s. On that tape he also sings spirituals, and applies all his gifts of timing et cetera to allow himself some sort of backing without showing the least sign of being able to perform any guitar part to the spirituals.  He just trots out the licks you can hear on his blues recordings, which are other than in their place in his blues performances pretty crude.
      If you go into the matter in depth and check out Tommy Johnson, who even recorded with a New Orleans clarinetist, Kid Ernest Michall, and the barrelhouse piano of Charley Taylor, who around 1930 alternated between what Sunnyland Slim was famous for, and ragtime, there is the curiosity that his verbal repertoire was minimal -- just the same few stanzas.
      I suspect that reflects what McTell meant when he spoke of a period before "the blues became original".
      Handy might well have been surprised by a local musician at a time when travel wasn't common, and obviously in Mississippi there were strong regional styles, Tommy Johnson and Ishman Bracey here, Skip James, Jack Owens and some unrecorded others in Bentonia, lack of travel hothousing styles among local performers.
       
      It was very interesting to hear Cowboy Roy when his recordings emerged a very few years back, for there was certainly something African about his playing as there was about Henry Thomas's. I mean African, not John Lee Hooker bluesy.
      There's also something more African about Robert Pete Williams. Unlike Mississippi John Hurt, he is a one-off,
      Hooker and the Civil War?  Presumably the civil war between beboppers and those of the Panassie persuasion?
       
      RRC
       
       
       
       
       
       




      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Patrice Champarou
      Great post, Robert! And I mean it. A few comments if you don t mind. ... It is interesting to note that most of the recorded rural blues singers whose
      Message 2 of 12 , Jul 30, 2009
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        Great post, Robert! And I mean it.

        A few comments if you don't mind.

        > the time when "the blues became original" and referred this to the sort of
        > craze for "blues" initiated by Mamie Smith's frst record.

        It is interesting to note that most of the recorded "rural" blues singers
        whose birthdate we know were about 20 when Crazy Blues came out. Older ones
        like Cannon, Patton, Stovepipe or Leadbelly definitely included more
        non-blues material than their younger counterparts when they were given a
        chance to record. Where had all the others gone, I mean the ones who were
        supposed to already sing blues in the 1890's and ought not to have been much
        more than 50 years old before the Depression? All dead? ;-)

        > Hooker never learned to play guitar (unlike Robert Johnson, who certainly
        > learned a lot from Lonnie Johnson records too).

        When I mentioned it a few years ago, it made some writers of Soul Bag
        magazine quite suspicious, but the number of blues musicians who learned
        from records is amazing.

        > There's also something more African about Robert Pete Williams.

        Indeed. Or is it only because he's the first self-taught, "rural" blues
        musician who actually used a minor key?

        > Hooker and the Civil War? Presumably the civil war between beboppers and
        > those of the Panassie persuasion?

        LOL!

        Patrice
      • ROBERT R. CALDER
        Where did the ladies get the blues music from ????   Patton and company certainly drew on their own resources and rural traditions alive near them. They are
        Message 3 of 12 , Aug 1, 2009
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          Where did the ladies get the blues music from ????
           
          Patton and company certainly drew on their own resources and rural traditions alive near them. They are hardly degenerate versions of anything. Also, as the late Eddie Lambert wrote of Sleepy John Estes THIS MUSIC IS MUSIC AND ISN'T PRE-ANYTHING!
           
          Then there is the drivel about blues piano having developed from blues guitar, as if somehow bluesmen had to rehearse some history of the development of keyboard instruments. I am sure musicians learned the instruments they did because they were there, and convenient. The Shetland islands are noted for fiddle music, the fiddle having been introduced when a shipmaster from Germany loaded his empty hold with cheap fiddles on the way to collect cargo from there. The previously dominant norse instrument was supplanted.
           
           
          What the supposed BLUES LADIES did was to record, and kindle the enthusiasm for blues which conditioned the selection of what material got recorded from among the repertoires of various rural-based descendants of slaves. 
          The blues form was a discovery from among numerous song-forms combining with various feelings and the need to express them. Quite possibly the form established itself among wandering musicians not above using home-made instruments. It caught on, apparently.
           
          The selling term BLUES was applied in the 1920s with all the tin-eared crassness of people who think music convertible into money and vice versa. The Edison company signed up one young lady on the basis of her vocal endowment and skin hue with the suggestion on her contract that she could be used to record BLUES. Beverley Sills or Caruso were no further away from the idiom than she was!  Note the number of BLUES titles which aren't blues in form
           
          If you listen to a lot of earlier recordings of found music and recordings by the Mississippi John Hurt etc. generation, you'll find an amazing variety including the square music of Fletcher Henderson's first bands, and even some antecedents of the Grand Ole Opry playing decent jazz. And there are all manner of things in common between folk musicians and early jazzmen which got left behind.  I was amused to hear a recording of Michael White trying to play a Klezmer number and sounding not unlike Tiny Parham eighty years earlier. Music simply became more specialised in its public presentations.
          Or found definitive expressive forms, In a real sense the blues pattern was latent in the conditions of music, and was discovered rather than created.  
           
           
          OF COURSE IF YOU READ PAUL OLIVER YOU WILL NOTE THE OBSERVATION THAT IN AFRICA AND IN THE USA ALIKE THERE WERE BOTH SOLO PERFORMERS AND BANDS IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY AND EARLIER AND THE NOTION THAT SOME PROTO JOHN LEE HOOKERS GOT TOGETHER TO COMPASS A COMBINATION OF SOLOISTS AND BEGINNING OF BANDS IS JUST RUBBISH.
          Perhaps the first bands were created when it was discovered that musical advantages could be secured by only some members of a tribe singing etc? 
           
           
          RRC
           
           
           




          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • ROBERT R. CALDER
          Having just acquired a copy of the CD Detroit Guitar Killers featuring bluesmen active in that city in the 1940s 1950s I have new thoughts on the wider
          Message 4 of 12 , Aug 1, 2009
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            Having just acquired a copy of the CD "Detroit Guitar Killers" featuring bluesmen active in that city in the 1940s 1950s I have new thoughts on the wider repertoire.
             
            Calvin Frazier, fairly obscure postwar, and recorded prewar only by the Library of Congress, which revealed him in 1940 as a genuinely outstanding performer in the style of his recent associate Robert Johnson, turns out to have recorded in 1956 not merely performances unrepresentative of his Mississippi background, but  WE'LL MEET AGAIN, I mean the very song which in Vera Lynn's performance became a hymn during the second world war.
             
            An extremely competent performer of that sort of stuff Frazier plainly was.
            I;m sure he could have done the same for the Library of Congress though I can't really imagine there would have been much point to it.
            Rather more people could manage to deliver such a performance than have ever mastered the combination of influences represented by Frazier's performances c.1041.
             
            And of course there is no evidence that anybody sang quite the WE'LL MEET AGAIN sort of song in quite that style during a certain North American war, the fiftieth anniversary of whose ending might well have been celebrated by the birth of Muddy Waters  . . .
             
            RRC
             




            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Howard Rye
            Can I just make two points. 1. I don¹t think anybody is now arguing on this list or anywhere, or has argued for 50 years (since Rudi Blesh and people who
            Message 5 of 12 , Aug 2, 2009
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              Can I just make two points.

              1. I don¹t think anybody is now arguing on this list or anywhere, or has
              argued for 50 years (since Rudi Blesh and people who accepted his argument
              without thought or much attempt to hear the records), that any type of blues
              is a degenerate version of any other. This is a paper tiger which hardly
              needs anyone to shout in capital letters to see it off.

              2. What the blues ladies (I don¹t need to shout) did (what the hell is
              ³supposed² about them) was not only to record, but to tour the length and
              breadth of the country performing not only at urban theatres but penetrating
              deep into rural areas. Until I read ³Ragged But Right² I certainly did not
              appreciate this and no one else did unless they had actually read the
              material and associated comment in the Indianapolis Freeman. This was going
              on for at least two decades before recording which is a late response to the
              existence/emergence of the market. No theory of the development of blues or
              jazz which fails to take this data into account is worth doodly-squat.
              Seroff and Abbott subtitled their book ³The Dark Pathway to Blues and Jazz²
              and they were right to do so.

              By the way, it¹s not a discovery that the profoundly racist Edison knew
              nothing about African-American music. Much more interesting than the hiring
              of African-American concert artists to record something that could be
              marketed as blues are the actual blues singers who apart from their rhythmic
              characteristics could be Edwardian parlor singers. And yes, I do think this
              is trying to tell us something.

              on 01/08/2009 20:05, ROBERT R. CALDER at serapion@... wrote:

              >
              >
              >
              >
              > Where did the ladies get the blues music from ????
              >  
              > Patton and company certainly drew on their own resources and rural traditions
              > alive near them. They are hardly degenerate versions of anything. Also, as the
              > late Eddie Lambert wrote of Sleepy John Estes THIS MUSIC IS MUSIC AND ISN'T
              > PRE-ANYTHING!
              >  
              > Then there is the drivel about blues piano having developed from blues guitar,
              > as if somehow bluesmen had to rehearse some history of the development of
              > keyboard instruments. I am sure musicians learned the instruments they did
              > because they were there, and convenient. The Shetland islands are noted for
              > fiddle music, the fiddle having been introduced when a shipmaster from Germany
              > loaded his empty hold with cheap fiddles on the way to collect cargo from
              > there. The previously dominant norse instrument was supplanted.
              >  
              >  
              > What the supposed BLUES LADIES did was to record, and kindle the enthusiasm
              > for blues which conditioned the selection of what material got recorded from
              > among the repertoires of various rural-based descendants of slaves. 
              > The blues form was a discovery from among numerous song-forms combining with
              > various feelings and the need to express them. Quite possibly the form
              > established itself among wandering musicians not above using home-made
              > instruments. It caught on, apparently.
              >  
              > The selling term BLUES was applied in the 1920s with all the tin-eared
              > crassness of people who think music convertible into money and vice versa. The
              > Edison company signed up one young lady on the basis of her vocal endowment
              > and skin hue with the suggestion on her contract that she could be used to
              > record BLUES. Beverley Sills or Caruso were no further away from the idiom
              > than she was!  Note the number of BLUES titles which aren't blues in form
              >  
              > If you listen to a lot of earlier recordings of found music and recordings by
              > the Mississippi John Hurt etc. generation, you'll find an amazing variety
              > including the square music of Fletcher Henderson's first bands, and even some
              > antecedents of the Grand Ole Opry playing decent jazz. And there are all
              > manner of things in common between folk musicians and early jazzmen which got
              > left behind.  I was amused to hear a recording of Michael White trying to play
              > a Klezmer number and sounding not unlike Tiny Parham eighty years
              > earlier. Music simply became more specialised in its public presentations.
              > Or found definitive expressive forms, In a real sense the blues pattern was
              > latent in the conditions of music, and was discovered rather than created.  
              >  
              >  
              > OF COURSE IF YOU READ PAUL OLIVER YOU WILL NOTE THE OBSERVATION THAT IN AFRICA
              > AND IN THE USA ALIKE THERE WERE BOTH SOLO PERFORMERS AND BANDS IN THE
              > TWENTIETH CENTURY AND EARLIER AND THE NOTION THAT SOME PROTO JOHN LEE HOOKERS
              > GOT TOGETHER TO COMPASS A COMBINATION OF SOLOISTS AND BEGINNING OF BANDS IS
              > JUST RUBBISH.
              > Perhaps the first bands were created when it was discovered that musical
              > advantages could be secured by only some members of a tribe singing etc? 
              >  
              >  
              > RRC
              >  
              >  
              >  
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >>
              >
              >
              > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
              > howard@...
              > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
              >



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Bob Eagle
              No quibble with any of this, except that we cannot be certain that the blues ladies were really singing blues.   As Robert says, a number of songs called
              Message 6 of 12 , Aug 2, 2009
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                No quibble with any of this, except that we cannot be certain that the "blues" ladies were really singing blues.
                 
                As Robert says, a number of songs called "blues" were not blues in form.  Some titles remain in B&GR vsn 4 that were popular songs sung with some blues intonation.
                 
                It seems that *some* blues were being sung in early times, but as late as 1932, Bessie Smith was uncomfortable about being a second blues singer in a vaudeville show (aside from the aspect that she was the second-string singer!).  It seems that the format was to have one (but not two) blues singer for variation (or, by the 1920s, for commercial necessity), but all the other female vaudeville singers on each show did some form of non-blues song.  This suggests that many ladies were *not* singing blues in vaudeville - maybe some sort of torch song instead, or in some cases songs of no jazz interest whatever (classical favorites, etc).
                 
                Which brings us back face-to-face with the perennial problem that black blues vocal recording started only in 1920 (and, let's recall that Mamie Smith had recorded non-blues songs before "Crazy Blues"), while white stage singers had been recording blues for years.  Black vocal blues were recorded frequently only after it was shown to be a commercial proposition.
                 
                We still lack a decent discography of white female blues singers.  Once a vaudeville singer from the teens or twenties is found to be white she is consigned to purgatory, no matter how "good" a singer she may have been.
                 
                It's a bit like ignoring Harmonica Frank after it was realised that he \was white, and a disciple of Buddy Jones.  We should be embracing both Frank and Jones, as fascinating extensions of black music, rather than proscribing them.  (Let them have their place, of course.  If the raison d'etre of B&GR is to present performances which would appeal to a black audience, because of style, then let's find some other venue in which to logically present the white female blues singers of the 1910s and 1920s).
                 
                Bob

                --- On Sun, 2/8/09, Howard Rye <howard@...> wrote:


                From: Howard Rye <howard@...>
                Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Blues Roots
                To: "red hot jazz" <RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com>
                Received: Sunday, 2 August, 2009, 6:45 PM


                 



                Can I just make two points.

                1. I don¹t think anybody is now arguing on this list or anywhere, or has
                argued for 50 years (since Rudi Blesh and people who accepted his argument
                without thought or much attempt to hear the records), that any type of blues
                is a degenerate version of any other. This is a paper tiger which hardly
                needs anyone to shout in capital letters to see it off.

                2. What the blues ladies (I don¹t need to shout) did (what the hell is
                ³supposed² about them) was not only to record, but to tour the length and
                breadth of the country performing not only at urban theatres but penetrating
                deep into rural areas. Until I read ³Ragged But Right² I certainly did not
                appreciate this and no one else did unless they had actually read the
                material and associated comment in the Indianapolis Freeman. This was going
                on for at least two decades before recording which is a late response to the
                existence/emergence of the market. No theory of the development of blues or
                jazz which fails to take this data into account is worth doodly-squat.
                Seroff and Abbott subtitled their book ³The Dark Pathway to Blues and Jazz²
                and they were right to do so.

                By the way, it¹s not a discovery that the profoundly racist Edison knew
                nothing about African-American music. Much more interesting than the hiring
                of African-American concert artists to record something that could be
                marketed as blues are the actual blues singers who apart from their rhythmic
                characteristics could be Edwardian parlor singers. And yes, I do think this
                is trying to tell us something.

                on 01/08/2009 20:05, ROBERT R. CALDER at serapion@btinternet .com wrote:

                >
                >
                >
                >
                > Where did the ladies get the blues music from ????
                >  
                > Patton and company certainly drew on their own resources and rural traditions
                > alive near them. They are hardly degenerate versions of anything. Also, as the
                > late Eddie Lambert wrote of Sleepy John Estes THIS MUSIC IS MUSIC AND ISN'T
                > PRE-ANYTHING!
                >  
                > Then there is the drivel about blues piano having developed from blues guitar,
                > as if somehow bluesmen had to rehearse some history of the development of
                > keyboard instruments. I am sure musicians learned the instruments they did
                > because they were there, and convenient. The Shetland islands are noted for
                > fiddle music, the fiddle having been introduced when a shipmaster from Germany
                > loaded his empty hold with cheap fiddles on the way to collect cargo from
                > there. The previously dominant norse instrument was supplanted.
                >  
                >  
                > What the supposed BLUES LADIES did was to record, and kindle the enthusiasm
                > for blues which conditioned the selection of what material got recorded from
                > among the repertoires of various rural-based descendants of slaves. 
                > The blues form was a discovery from among numerous song-forms combining with
                > various feelings and the need to express them. Quite possibly the form
                > established itself among wandering musicians not above using home-made
                > instruments. It caught on, apparently.
                >  
                > The selling term BLUES was applied in the 1920s with all the tin-eared
                > crassness of people who think music convertible into money and vice versa. The
                > Edison company signed up one young lady on the basis of her vocal endowment
                > and skin hue with the suggestion on her contract that she could be used to
                > record BLUES. Beverley Sills or Caruso were no further away from the idiom
                > than she was!  Note the number of BLUES titles which aren't blues in form
                >  
                > If you listen to a lot of earlier recordings of found music and recordings by
                > the Mississippi John Hurt etc. generation, you'll find an amazing variety
                > including the square music of Fletcher Henderson's first bands, and even some
                > antecedents of the Grand Ole Opry playing decent jazz. And there are all
                > manner of things in common between folk musicians and early jazzmen which got
                > left behind.  I was amused to hear a recording of Michael White trying to play
                > a Klezmer number and sounding not unlike Tiny Parham eighty years
                > earlier. Music simply became more specialised in its public presentations.
                > Or found definitive expressive forms, In a real sense the blues pattern was
                > latent in the conditions of music, and was discovered rather than created.  
                >  
                >  
                > OF COURSE IF YOU READ PAUL OLIVER YOU WILL NOTE THE OBSERVATION THAT IN AFRICA
                > AND IN THE USA ALIKE THERE WERE BOTH SOLO PERFORMERS AND BANDS IN THE
                > TWENTIETH CENTURY AND EARLIER AND THE NOTION THAT SOME PROTO JOHN LEE HOOKERS
                > GOT TOGETHER TO COMPASS A COMBINATION OF SOLOISTS AND BEGINNING OF BANDS IS
                > JUST RUBBISH.
                > Perhaps the first bands were created when it was discovered that musical
                > advantages could be secured by only some members of a tribe singing etc? 
                >  
                >  
                > RRC
                >  
                >  
                >  
                >
                > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >>
                >
                >
                > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                > howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
                > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
                >

                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

















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              • Patrice Champarou
                ... From: Howard Rye ... I said I would avoid taking part in this discussion, because I actually have trouble understanding what everybody is aiming at,
                Message 7 of 12 , Aug 2, 2009
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                  ----- Original Message -----
                  From: "Howard Rye"

                  > I don¹t think anybody is now arguing on this list or anywhere, or has
                  > argued for 50 years [...] that any type of blues
                  > is a degenerate version of any other. This is a paper tiger which hardly
                  > needs anyone to shout in capital letters to see it off.

                  I said I would avoid taking part in this discussion, because I actually have
                  trouble understanding what everybody is aiming at, but...
                  Assuming I correctly understood your meaning, I'm afraid I have to say yes,
                  more people than you think still believe in, and keep writing about, a
                  "pure" form of blues which is supposed to predate all others.
                  I am reading Sandra Lieb's Mother of the Blues devoted to Ma Rainey, and
                  I've been quite shocked to see that the supervision and help of someone I do
                  consider and respect, Dr. David Evans, seems to allow Mrs Lieb to state as
                  an unarguable fact that there are "evidence of twelve-bar, blues-like vocal
                  tunes, based on the pentatonic scale, with stanzas of three lines", "after
                  1890". Which obviously leaves a wide enough period of time until present
                  days to never be proved wrong, but is still another biased way of supporting
                  the legend of what she clearly calls "the true roots of the blues" (page
                  XIII) and defines as "the work of male folk blues singers", for which she
                  decides to "use interchagably the terms folk blues, traditional blues, and
                  country blues" (page 58).
                  I don't mind anyone to keep suggesting that some early forms of the typical
                  "folk" blues idiom which could only be heard after 1924 might have existed
                  two or three decades earlier, but I do "have a problem", as some say, with
                  completely rejecting the reverse hypothesis, and subordonating the result of
                  careful research to what is nothing more than an assumption, only supported
                  by mind-satisfying, retrospective logics.

                  I would have plenty more to say about what Gilber intentionnally cut off
                  from page 22 of Ted Gioia's book, but I'm afraid I will first have to make a
                  point of order as the group-owner, so here is the [ADMIN] addition :

                  I do not only approve Howard for reminding everyone that writing sentences
                  in all caps in conventionally very impolite on the Net, and has been since
                  the early days of communication by email - which is why it is clearly
                  forbidden by this group's rules, which every subscriber is supposed to have
                  read and accepted. But I also insist *again* that Yahoo mailing-lists are
                  based on the concept of "threads", which enable Web readers to select
                  messages related to a precise subject.
                  Randomly altering the initial subject line, or initiating a new thread while
                  you are only replying to previous arguments (like, sorry, pretending to deal
                  with W.C. Handy while you only mention Ted Gioia and Peabody to share your
                  view on a current discussion) is the safest way to make sure your post will
                  be ignored - and, if the process happened to be repeated, rejected. This is
                  *not* a forum, the subject line is not supposed to reflect your opinion or
                  one argument, it is the only tool which Yahoo uses to organize discussions
                  in threads... so whenever you "reply", please just click "reply".

                  Patrice
                • Patrice Champarou
                  ... From: myself ;-) ... I forgot to add : ... and accompanied by guitar , which brings us back to the undocumented hallucination of Eileen Southern in 1976
                  Message 8 of 12 , Aug 2, 2009
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                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: "myself" ;-)

                    > (...)
                    > "evidence of twelve-bar, blues-like vocal tunes, based on the pentatonic
                    > scale, with stanzas of three lines"

                    I forgot to add : "... and accompanied by guitar", which brings us back to
                    the
                    undocumented hallucination of Eileen Southern in 1976 Music Of Black
                    Americans, an otherwise remakably documented study for the time.

                    Incidentally, I must get hold of one of Handy's interviews which provides
                    clear info about what he called the pentatonic scale, and was rather a
                    cropped version of the major scale than the so-called "blues mode" with its
                    altered 3rd and 7th (not mentioning the diminished 5th which was virtually
                    absent from pre-war blues)

                    P.
                  • Patrice Champarou
                    ... From: Bob Eagle To: Sent: Sunday, August 02, 2009 3:11 PM Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Blues Roots
                    Message 9 of 12 , Aug 2, 2009
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                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: "Bob Eagle" <prof_hi_jinx@...>
                      To: <RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com>
                      Sent: Sunday, August 02, 2009 3:11 PM
                      Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Blues Roots


                      > This suggests that many ladies were *not* singing blues in vaudeville -
                      > maybe some sort
                      > of torch song instead, or in some cases songs of no jazz interest whatever
                      > (classical favorites, etc).

                      Abbott and Seroff note that the press did not report any significant change
                      in the Rabbit Foot Minstrels' repertoire after Ma Rainey had joined them in
                      1906, and kept referring to her as a "coon shouter" until 1916, when several
                      "vaudeville" artists were redefined as "blues singers", probably following
                      the success of intrumental blues.
                      This is of course no indication (either way) about what she was actually
                      singing, but as Elijah Wald pointed out, the stage name of Ma' and Pa'
                      Rainey as "Assassinators of the blues" meant their act was intended to drive
                      sorry feelings away, not to slaughter the twelve bars ;-)

                      P.
                    • Howard Rye
                      When I talk about blues I am talking about a musical style, not about a song form. The definition for inclusion in B&GR which is set out pretty explicitly in
                      Message 10 of 12 , Aug 2, 2009
                      • 0 Attachment
                        When I talk about blues I am talking about a musical style, not about a song
                        form. The definition for inclusion in B&GR which is set out pretty
                        explicitly in the introduction most certainly embraces ³popular songs sung
                        with some blues intonation.² They do not ³remain². They are one of the
                        things the book is about and they will always be there.

                        The definition is very explicitly a cultural one, though even that does not
                        prevent ambiguity at the edges, but anomalous inclusions such as Josephine
                        James and Virginia Childs have tended to result from ignorance rather than
                        ambiguity.

                        To dramatize this another way, ³Is Lizzie Miles a blues singer?² I would
                        say, yes. Many of those who believe in the primacy of male country blues
                        singers would emphatically say no. I had to argue for her inclusion in Blues
                        Records 1943-1970.

                        I don¹t think there will ever be a discography of white female blues singers
                        because no one knows how to recognise one. Who but a musicologist would
                        actually want a discography of white singers singing songs of blues form.
                        Even Dinah Shore did that and many other popular singers who performed
                        without a shred of acquaintance with blues intontation or African-American
                        rhythms. Is Elsie Carlisle a white blues singer, Bob? Practicalitites do
                        enter into this!

                        on 02/08/2009 14:11, Bob Eagle at prof_hi_jinx@... wrote:

                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > No quibble with any of this, except that we cannot be certain that the "blues"
                        > ladies were really singing blues.
                        >  
                        > As Robert says, a number of songs called "blues" were not blues in form.  Some
                        > titles remain in B&GR vsn 4 that were popular songs sung with some blues
                        > intonation.
                        >  
                        > It seems that *some* blues were being sung in early times, but as late as
                        > 1932, Bessie Smith was uncomfortable about being a second blues singer in a
                        > vaudeville show (aside from the aspect that she was the second-string
                        > singer!).  It seems that the format was to have one (but not two) blues singer
                        > for variation (or, by the 1920s, for commercial necessity), but all the other
                        > female vaudeville singers on each show did some form of non-blues song. 
                        > This suggests that many ladies were *not* singing blues in vaudeville - maybe
                        > some sort of torch song instead, or in some cases songs of no jazz interest
                        > whatever (classical favorites, etc).
                        >  
                        > Which brings us back face-to-face with the perennial problem that black blues
                        > vocal recording started only in 1920 (and, let's recall that Mamie Smith had
                        > recorded non-blues songs before "Crazy Blues"), while white stage singers had
                        > been recording blues for years.  Black vocal blues were recorded frequently
                        > only after it was shown to be a commercial proposition.
                        >  
                        > We still lack a decent discography of white female blues singers.  Once a
                        > vaudeville singer from the teens or twenties is found to be white she is
                        > consigned to purgatory, no matter how "good" a singer she may have been.
                        >  
                        > It's a bit like ignoring Harmonica Frank after it was realised that he \was
                        > white, and a disciple of Buddy Jones.  We should be embracing both Frank and
                        > Jones, as fascinating extensions of black music, rather than proscribing
                        > them.  (Let them have their place, of course.  If the raison d'etre of B&GR is
                        > to present performances which would appeal to a black audience, because of
                        > style, then let's find some other venue in which to logically present the
                        > white female blues singers of the 1910s and 1920s).
                        >  
                        > Bob
                        >
                        > --- On Sun, 2/8/09, Howard Rye <howard@...
                        > <mailto:howard%40coppermill.demon.co.uk> > wrote:
                        >
                        > From: Howard Rye <howard@...
                        > <mailto:howard%40coppermill.demon.co.uk> >
                        > Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Blues Roots
                        > To: "red hot jazz" <RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com
                        > <mailto:RedHotJazz%40yahoogroups.com> >
                        > Received: Sunday, 2 August, 2009, 6:45 PM
                        >
                        >  
                        >
                        > Can I just make two points.
                        >
                        > 1. I don¹t think anybody is now arguing on this list or anywhere, or has
                        > argued for 50 years (since Rudi Blesh and people who accepted his argument
                        > without thought or much attempt to hear the records), that any type of blues
                        > is a degenerate version of any other. This is a paper tiger which hardly
                        > needs anyone to shout in capital letters to see it off.
                        >
                        > 2. What the blues ladies (I don¹t need to shout) did (what the hell is
                        > ³supposed² about them) was not only to record, but to tour the length and
                        > breadth of the country performing not only at urban theatres but penetrating
                        > deep into rural areas. Until I read ³Ragged But Right² I certainly did not
                        > appreciate this and no one else did unless they had actually read the
                        > material and associated comment in the Indianapolis Freeman. This was going
                        > on for at least two decades before recording which is a late response to the
                        > existence/emergence of the market. No theory of the development of blues or
                        > jazz which fails to take this data into account is worth doodly-squat.
                        > Seroff and Abbott subtitled their book ³The Dark Pathway to Blues and Jazz²
                        > and they were right to do so.
                        >
                        > By the way, it¹s not a discovery that the profoundly racist Edison knew
                        > nothing about African-American music. Much more interesting than the hiring
                        > of African-American concert artists to record something that could be
                        > marketed as blues are the actual blues singers who apart from their rhythmic
                        > characteristics could be Edwardian parlor singers. And yes, I do think this
                        > is trying to tell us something.
                        >
                        > on 01/08/2009 20:05, ROBERT R. CALDER at serapion@btinternet .com wrote:
                        >
                        >> >
                        >> >
                        >> >
                        >> >
                        >> > Where did the ladies get the blues music from ????
                        >> >  
                        >> > Patton and company certainly drew on their own resources and rural
                        >> traditions
                        >> > alive near them. They are hardly degenerate versions of anything. Also, as
                        >> the
                        >> > late Eddie Lambert wrote of Sleepy John Estes THIS MUSIC IS MUSIC AND ISN'T
                        >> > PRE-ANYTHING!
                        >> >  
                        >> > Then there is the drivel about blues piano having developed from blues
                        >> guitar,
                        >> > as if somehow bluesmen had to rehearse some history of the development of
                        >> > keyboard instruments. I am sure musicians learned the instruments they did
                        >> > because they were there, and convenient. The Shetland islands are noted for
                        >> > fiddle music, the fiddle having been introduced when a shipmaster from
                        >> Germany
                        >> > loaded his empty hold with cheap fiddles on the way to collect cargo from
                        >> > there. The previously dominant norse instrument was supplanted.
                        >> >  
                        >> >  
                        >> > What the supposed BLUES LADIES did was to record, and kindle the enthusiasm
                        >> > for blues which conditioned the selection of what material got recorded
                        >> from
                        >> > among the repertoires of various rural-based descendants of slaves. 
                        >> > The blues form was a discovery from among numerous song-forms combining
                        >> with
                        >> > various feelings and the need to express them. Quite possibly the form
                        >> > established itself among wandering musicians not above using home-made
                        >> > instruments. It caught on, apparently.
                        >> >  
                        >> > The selling term BLUES was applied in the 1920s with all the tin-eared
                        >> > crassness of people who think music convertible into money and vice versa.
                        >> The
                        >> > Edison company signed up one young lady on the basis of her vocal endowment
                        >> > and skin hue with the suggestion on her contract that she could be used to
                        >> > record BLUES. Beverley Sills or Caruso were no further away from the idiom
                        >> > than she was!  Note the number of BLUES titles which aren't blues in form
                        >> >  
                        >> > If you listen to a lot of earlier recordings of found music and recordings
                        >> by
                        >> > the Mississippi John Hurt etc. generation, you'll find an amazing variety
                        >> > including the square music of Fletcher Henderson's first bands, and even
                        >> some
                        >> > antecedents of the Grand Ole Opry playing decent jazz. And there are all
                        >> > manner of things in common between folk musicians and early jazzmen which
                        >> got
                        >> > left behind.  I was amused to hear a recording of Michael White trying to
                        >> play
                        >> > a Klezmer number and sounding not unlike Tiny Parham eighty years
                        >> > earlier. Music simply became more specialised in its public presentations.
                        >> > Or found definitive expressive forms, In a real sense the blues pattern was
                        >> > latent in the conditions of music, and was discovered rather than
                        >> created.  
                        >> >  
                        >> >  
                        >> > OF COURSE IF YOU READ PAUL OLIVER YOU WILL NOTE THE OBSERVATION THAT IN
                        >> AFRICA
                        >> > AND IN THE USA ALIKE THERE WERE BOTH SOLO PERFORMERS AND BANDS IN THE
                        >> > TWENTIETH CENTURY AND EARLIER AND THE NOTION THAT SOME PROTO JOHN LEE
                        >> HOOKERS
                        >> > GOT TOGETHER TO COMPASS A COMBINATION OF SOLOISTS AND BEGINNING OF BANDS IS
                        >> > JUST RUBBISH.
                        >> > Perhaps the first bands were created when it was discovered that musical
                        >> > advantages could be secured by only some members of a tribe singing etc? 
                        >> >  
                        >> >  
                        >> > RRC
                        >> >  
                        >> >  
                        >> >  
                        >> >
                        >> > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        >> >
                        >> >
                        >> >
                        >> >
                        >>> >>
                        >> >
                        >> >
                        >> > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                        >> > howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
                        >> > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
                        >> >
                        >
                        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        >
                        > __________________________________________________________
                        > Access Yahoo!7 Mail on your mobile. Anytime. Anywhere.
                        > Show me how: http://au.mobile.yahoo.com/mail
                        >
                        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >>
                        >
                        >
                        > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                        > howard@...
                        > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
                        >



                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Bob Eagle
                        It was not my intention to question the cultural orientation of B&GR, which I have accepted since the first edition as the most logical contruct to align the
                        Message 11 of 12 , Aug 2, 2009
                        • 0 Attachment
                          It was not my intention to question the cultural orientation of B&GR, which I have accepted since the first edition as the most logical contruct to align the realities of the development of the blues with the aesthetic needs of later collectors.  And I agree with you - I've always thought of Lizzie Miles as a blues singer.  Nevertheless, there are some singers in B&GR whose stylistic connections with blues (whether in form or content) are so tenuous that I like to view them as "remaining" in B&GR despite my personal lack of interest in them.  I'm not suggesting they be removed, because I'm aware that, at the fringes of the definition, there are cases where some collectors want to collect the performer, and others don't.  But I find some of them to be of less interest than their white equivalents, and I think it would be strange if that type of exception did not sometimes arise and thus prove the rule.
                           
                          My post was aimed at the widespread assumption that, because many vaudeville performers of the 1920s sang (and recorded) blues, all other vaudeville performers also did so, even some decades before 1920.  The work of Seroff and Abbott has shed light on some of the developments, but it is still frustrating not to have some way of knowing better what was being sung.
                           
                          Bob

                          --- On Sun, 2/8/09, Howard Rye <howard@...> wrote:


                          From: Howard Rye <howard@...>
                          Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Blues Roots
                          To: "red hot jazz" <RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com>
                          Received: Sunday, 2 August, 2009, 10:50 PM


                           



                          When I talk about blues I am talking about a musical style, not about a song
                          form. The definition for inclusion in B&GR which is set out pretty
                          explicitly in the introduction most certainly embraces ³popular songs sung
                          with some blues intonation.² They do not ³remain². They are one of the
                          things the book is about and they will always be there.

                          The definition is very explicitly a cultural one, though even that does not
                          prevent ambiguity at the edges, but anomalous inclusions such as Josephine
                          James and Virginia Childs have tended to result from ignorance rather than
                          ambiguity.

                          To dramatize this another way, ³Is Lizzie Miles a blues singer?² I would
                          say, yes. Many of those who believe in the primacy of male country blues
                          singers would emphatically say no. I had to argue for her inclusion in Blues
                          Records 1943-1970.

                          I don¹t think there will ever be a discography of white female blues singers
                          because no one knows how to recognise one. Who but a musicologist would
                          actually want a discography of white singers singing songs of blues form.
                          Even Dinah Shore did that and many other popular singers who performed
                          without a shred of acquaintance with blues intontation or African-American
                          rhythms. Is Elsie Carlisle a white blues singer, Bob? Practicalitites do
                          enter into this!

                          on 02/08/2009 14:11, Bob Eagle at prof_hi_jinx@ yahoo.com. au wrote:

                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          > No quibble with any of this, except that we cannot be certain that the "blues"
                          > ladies were really singing blues.
                          >  
                          > As Robert says, a number of songs called "blues" were not blues in form.  Some
                          > titles remain in B&GR vsn 4 that were popular songs sung with some blues
                          > intonation.
                          >  
                          > It seems that *some* blues were being sung in early times, but as late as
                          > 1932, Bessie Smith was uncomfortable about being a second blues singer in a
                          > vaudeville show (aside from the aspect that she was the second-string
                          > singer!).  It seems that the format was to have one (but not two) blues singer
                          > for variation (or, by the 1920s, for commercial necessity), but all the other
                          > female vaudeville singers on each show did some form of non-blues song. 
                          > This suggests that many ladies were *not* singing blues in vaudeville - maybe
                          > some sort of torch song instead, or in some cases songs of no jazz interest
                          > whatever (classical favorites, etc).
                          >  
                          > Which brings us back face-to-face with the perennial problem that black blues
                          > vocal recording started only in 1920 (and, let's recall that Mamie Smith had
                          > recorded non-blues songs before "Crazy Blues"), while white stage singers had
                          > been recording blues for years.  Black vocal blues were recorded frequently
                          > only after it was shown to be a commercial proposition.
                          >  
                          > We still lack a decent discography of white female blues singers.  Once a
                          > vaudeville singer from the teens or twenties is found to be white she is
                          > consigned to purgatory, no matter how "good" a singer she may have been.
                          >  
                          > It's a bit like ignoring Harmonica Frank after it was realised that he \was
                          > white, and a disciple of Buddy Jones.  We should be embracing both Frank and
                          > Jones, as fascinating extensions of black music, rather than proscribing
                          > them.  (Let them have their place, of course.  If the raison d'etre of B&GR is
                          > to present performances which would appeal to a black audience, because of
                          > style, then let's find some other venue in which to logically present the
                          > white female blues singers of the 1910s and 1920s).
                          >  
                          > Bob
                          >
                          > --- On Sun, 2/8/09, Howard Rye <howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
                          > <mailto:howard% 40coppermill. demon.co. uk> > wrote:
                          >
                          > From: Howard Rye <howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
                          > <mailto:howard% 40coppermill. demon.co. uk> >
                          > Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Blues Roots
                          > To: "red hot jazz" <RedHotJazz@yahoogro ups.com
                          > <mailto:RedHotJazz% 40yahoogroups. com> >
                          > Received: Sunday, 2 August, 2009, 6:45 PM
                          >
                          >  
                          >
                          > Can I just make two points.
                          >
                          > 1. I don¹t think anybody is now arguing on this list or anywhere, or has
                          > argued for 50 years (since Rudi Blesh and people who accepted his argument
                          > without thought or much attempt to hear the records), that any type of blues
                          > is a degenerate version of any other. This is a paper tiger which hardly
                          > needs anyone to shout in capital letters to see it off.
                          >
                          > 2. What the blues ladies (I don¹t need to shout) did (what the hell is
                          > ³supposed² about them) was not only to record, but to tour the length and
                          > breadth of the country performing not only at urban theatres but penetrating
                          > deep into rural areas. Until I read ³Ragged But Right² I certainly did not
                          > appreciate this and no one else did unless they had actually read the
                          > material and associated comment in the Indianapolis Freeman. This was going
                          > on for at least two decades before recording which is a late response to the
                          > existence/emergence of the market. No theory of the development of blues or
                          > jazz which fails to take this data into account is worth doodly-squat.
                          > Seroff and Abbott subtitled their book ³The Dark Pathway to Blues and Jazz²
                          > and they were right to do so.
                          >
                          > By the way, it¹s not a discovery that the profoundly racist Edison knew
                          > nothing about African-American music. Much more interesting than the hiring
                          > of African-American concert artists to record something that could be
                          > marketed as blues are the actual blues singers who apart from their rhythmic
                          > characteristics could be Edwardian parlor singers. And yes, I do think this
                          > is trying to tell us something.
                          >
                          > on 01/08/2009 20:05, ROBERT R. CALDER at serapion@btinternet .com wrote:
                          >
                          >> >
                          >> >
                          >> >
                          >> >
                          >> > Where did the ladies get the blues music from ????
                          >> >  
                          >> > Patton and company certainly drew on their own resources and rural
                          >> traditions
                          >> > alive near them. They are hardly degenerate versions of anything. Also, as
                          >> the
                          >> > late Eddie Lambert wrote of Sleepy John Estes THIS MUSIC IS MUSIC AND ISN'T
                          >> > PRE-ANYTHING!
                          >> >  
                          >> > Then there is the drivel about blues piano having developed from blues
                          >> guitar,
                          >> > as if somehow bluesmen had to rehearse some history of the development of
                          >> > keyboard instruments. I am sure musicians learned the instruments they did
                          >> > because they were there, and convenient. The Shetland islands are noted for
                          >> > fiddle music, the fiddle having been introduced when a shipmaster from
                          >> Germany
                          >> > loaded his empty hold with cheap fiddles on the way to collect cargo from
                          >> > there. The previously dominant norse instrument was supplanted.
                          >> >  
                          >> >  
                          >> > What the supposed BLUES LADIES did was to record, and kindle the enthusiasm
                          >> > for blues which conditioned the selection of what material got recorded
                          >> from
                          >> > among the repertoires of various rural-based descendants of slaves. 
                          >> > The blues form was a discovery from among numerous song-forms combining
                          >> with
                          >> > various feelings and the need to express them. Quite possibly the form
                          >> > established itself among wandering musicians not above using home-made
                          >> > instruments. It caught on, apparently.
                          >> >  
                          >> > The selling term BLUES was applied in the 1920s with all the tin-eared
                          >> > crassness of people who think music convertible into money and vice versa.
                          >> The
                          >> > Edison company signed up one young lady on the basis of her vocal endowment
                          >> > and skin hue with the suggestion on her contract that she could be used to
                          >> > record BLUES. Beverley Sills or Caruso were no further away from the idiom
                          >> > than she was!  Note the number of BLUES titles which aren't blues in form
                          >> >  
                          >> > If you listen to a lot of earlier recordings of found music and recordings
                          >> by
                          >> > the Mississippi John Hurt etc. generation, you'll find an amazing variety
                          >> > including the square music of Fletcher Henderson's first bands, and even
                          >> some
                          >> > antecedents of the Grand Ole Opry playing decent jazz. And there are all
                          >> > manner of things in common between folk musicians and early jazzmen which
                          >> got
                          >> > left behind.  I was amused to hear a recording of Michael White trying to
                          >> play
                          >> > a Klezmer number and sounding not unlike Tiny Parham eighty years
                          >> > earlier. Music simply became more specialised in its public presentations.
                          >> > Or found definitive expressive forms, In a real sense the blues pattern was
                          >> > latent in the conditions of music, and was discovered rather than
                          >> created.  
                          >> >  
                          >> >  
                          >> > OF COURSE IF YOU READ PAUL OLIVER YOU WILL NOTE THE OBSERVATION THAT IN
                          >> AFRICA
                          >> > AND IN THE USA ALIKE THERE WERE BOTH SOLO PERFORMERS AND BANDS IN THE
                          >> > TWENTIETH CENTURY AND EARLIER AND THE NOTION THAT SOME PROTO JOHN LEE
                          >> HOOKERS
                          >> > GOT TOGETHER TO COMPASS A COMBINATION OF SOLOISTS AND BEGINNING OF BANDS IS
                          >> > JUST RUBBISH.
                          >> > Perhaps the first bands were created when it was discovered that musical
                          >> > advantages could be secured by only some members of a tribe singing etc? 
                          >> >  
                          >> >  
                          >> > RRC
                          >> >  
                          >> >  
                          >> >  
                          >> >
                          >> > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          >> >
                          >> >
                          >> >
                          >> >
                          >>> >>
                          >> >
                          >> >
                          >> > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                          >> > howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
                          >> > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
                          >> >
                          >
                          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          >
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                          > Show me how: http://au.mobile yahoo.com/ mail
                          >
                          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >>
                          >
                          >
                          > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                          > howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
                          > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
                          >

                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

















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                        • Howard Rye
                          I would be seriously interested to know, off or on list, who these ³singers in B&GR whose stylistic connections with blues (whether in form or content) are so
                          Message 12 of 12 , Aug 3, 2009
                          • 0 Attachment
                            I would be seriously interested to know, off or on list, who these ³singers
                            in B&GR whose stylistic connections with blues (whether in form or content)
                            are so tenuous that I like to view them as "remaining" ³ actually are.

                            All such inclusions need to have a justification and we need all the help we
                            can get to ensure that there is one!

                            I know you already know this, Bob, but for the benefit of those who don¹t,
                            this ³canon² was originally devised in the 1950s at a time when the at least
                            a third of this material had not actually been heard by anybody involved, so
                            a proportion of the inclusions were merely deductive. Generally if an
                            unheard artist was in a Race series they were included and if they were not
                            they were excluded.

                            So Josephine James was included because she is in the Ajax Race series even
                            though it eventually transpired that she has no place in jazz or blues
                            discography. On the other hand Clara Belle Gholston was excluded because her
                            record (one of the towereing masterpieces of African-American music) was in
                            the general series and no one involved knew this was the same artist as
                            Clara Hudmon in the Okeh Race series and The Georgia Peach of 1942 onwards.

                            Cases like Bert Williams and Pete Hampton, where we have already noted that
                            we have included complete discographies knowing that some/many individual
                            titles do not belong, are of course different again. We also of course know
                            that most jubilee groups are of no interest to jazz or blues enthusiasts,
                            which is why they were omitted in the first place, but they have now been
                            included in response to academic demand, which has at least the
                            justification that they were hugely infuential on later developments. One of
                            the most controversial inclusions to me are the Christian & Missionary
                            Alliance Gospel Singers, whose records are neither in an African-American
                            idiom, nor were they marketed to African-Americans. Recent research, which
                            will be known to Bob, has established conclusively that they were servants
                            of a white denomination and employed exclusively, so far as we can discover,
                            in a context of revivals aimed at potential recruits to that denomination.
                            Their music is appropriate to the job for which they were employed. Do they
                            belong in B&GR? Blowed if I know. There is always ambiguity at the edges. It
                            may be that the current solution which is to include such material while
                            noting that it does not belong musically is the best fudge we have.


                            on 02/08/2009 23:50, Bob Eagle at prof_hi_jinx@... wrote:

                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > It was not my intention to question the cultural orientation of B&GR, which I
                            > have accepted since the first edition as the most logical contruct to align
                            > the realities of the development of the blues with the aesthetic needs of
                            > later collectors.  And I agree with you - I've always thought of Lizzie Miles
                            > as a blues singer.  Nevertheless, there are some singers in B&GR whose
                            > stylistic connections with blues (whether in form or content) are so tenuous
                            > that I like to view them as "remaining" in B&GR despite my personal lack of
                            > interest in them.  I'm not suggesting they be removed, because I'm aware that,
                            > at the fringes of the definition, there are cases where some collectors want
                            > to collect the performer, and others don't.  But I find some of them to be of
                            > less interest than their white equivalents, and I think it would be strange if
                            > that type of exception did not sometimes arise and thus prove the rule.
                            >  
                            > My post was aimed at the widespread assumption that, because many vaudeville
                            > performers of the 1920s sang (and recorded) blues, all other vaudeville
                            > performers also did so, even some decades before 1920.  The work of Seroff and
                            > Abbott has shed light on some of the developments, but it is still frustrating
                            > not to have some way of knowing better what was being sung.
                            >  
                            > Bob
                            >
                            > --- On Sun, 2/8/09, Howard Rye <howard@...
                            > <mailto:howard%40coppermill.demon.co.uk> > wrote:
                            >
                            > From: Howard Rye <howard@...
                            > <mailto:howard%40coppermill.demon.co.uk> >
                            > Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Blues Roots
                            > To: "red hot jazz" <RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com
                            > <mailto:RedHotJazz%40yahoogroups.com> >
                            > Received: Sunday, 2 August, 2009, 10:50 PM
                            >
                            >  
                            >
                            > When I talk about blues I am talking about a musical style, not about a song
                            > form. The definition for inclusion in B&GR which is set out pretty
                            > explicitly in the introduction most certainly embraces ³popular songs sung
                            > with some blues intonation.² They do not ³remain². They are one of the
                            > things the book is about and they will always be there.
                            >
                            > The definition is very explicitly a cultural one, though even that does not
                            > prevent ambiguity at the edges, but anomalous inclusions such as Josephine
                            > James and Virginia Childs have tended to result from ignorance rather than
                            > ambiguity.
                            >
                            > To dramatize this another way, ³Is Lizzie Miles a blues singer?² I would
                            > say, yes. Many of those who believe in the primacy of male country blues
                            > singers would emphatically say no. I had to argue for her inclusion in Blues
                            > Records 1943-1970.
                            >
                            > I don¹t think there will ever be a discography of white female blues singers
                            > because no one knows how to recognise one. Who but a musicologist would
                            > actually want a discography of white singers singing songs of blues form.
                            > Even Dinah Shore did that and many other popular singers who performed
                            > without a shred of acquaintance with blues intontation or African-American
                            > rhythms. Is Elsie Carlisle a white blues singer, Bob? Practicalitites do
                            > enter into this!
                            >
                            > on 02/08/2009 14:11, Bob Eagle at prof_hi_jinx@ yahoo.com. au wrote:
                            >
                            >> >
                            >> >
                            >> >
                            >> >
                            >> > No quibble with any of this, except that we cannot be certain that the
                            >> "blues"
                            >> > ladies were really singing blues.
                            >> >  
                            >> > As Robert says, a number of songs called "blues" were not blues in form. 
                            >> Some
                            >> > titles remain in B&GR vsn 4 that were popular songs sung with some blues
                            >> > intonation.
                            >> >  
                            >> > It seems that *some* blues were being sung in early times, but as late as
                            >> > 1932, Bessie Smith was uncomfortable about being a second blues singer in a
                            >> > vaudeville show (aside from the aspect that she was the second-string
                            >> > singer!).  It seems that the format was to have one (but not two) blues
                            >> singer
                            >> > for variation (or, by the 1920s, for commercial necessity), but all the
                            >> other
                            >> > female vaudeville singers on each show did some form of non-blues song. 
                            >> > This suggests that many ladies were *not* singing blues in vaudeville -
                            >> maybe
                            >> > some sort of torch song instead, or in some cases songs of no jazz interest
                            >> > whatever (classical favorites, etc).
                            >> >  
                            >> > Which brings us back face-to-face with the perennial problem that black
                            >> blues
                            >> > vocal recording started only in 1920 (and, let's recall that Mamie Smith >>
                            had
                            >> > recorded non-blues songs before "Crazy Blues"), while white stage singers
                            >> had
                            >> > been recording blues for years.  Black vocal blues were recorded frequently
                            >> > only after it was shown to be a commercial proposition.
                            >> >  
                            >> > We still lack a decent discography of white female blues singers.  Once a
                            >> > vaudeville singer from the teens or twenties is found to be white she is
                            >> > consigned to purgatory, no matter how "good" a singer she may have been.
                            >> >  
                            >> > It's a bit like ignoring Harmonica Frank after it was realised that he \was
                            >> > white, and a disciple of Buddy Jones.  We should be embracing both Frank >>
                            and
                            >> > Jones, as fascinating extensions of black music, rather than proscribing
                            >> > them.  (Let them have their place, of course.  If the raison d'etre of B&GR
                            >> is
                            >> > to present performances which would appeal to a black audience, because of
                            >> > style, then let's find some other venue in which to logically present the
                            >> > white female blues singers of the 1910s and 1920s).
                            >> >  
                            >> > Bob
                            >> >
                            >> > --- On Sun, 2/8/09, Howard Rye <howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
                            >> > <mailto:howard% 40coppermill. demon.co. uk> > wrote:
                            >> >
                            >> > From: Howard Rye <howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
                            >> > <mailto:howard% 40coppermill. demon.co. uk> >
                            >> > Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Blues Roots
                            >> > To: "red hot jazz" <RedHotJazz@yahoogro ups.com
                            >> > <mailto:RedHotJazz% 40yahoogroups. com> >
                            >> > Received: Sunday, 2 August, 2009, 6:45 PM
                            >> >
                            >> >  
                            >> >
                            >> > Can I just make two points.
                            >> >
                            >> > 1. I don¹t think anybody is now arguing on this list or anywhere, or has
                            >> > argued for 50 years (since Rudi Blesh and people who accepted his argument
                            >> > without thought or much attempt to hear the records), that any type of
                            >> blues
                            >> > is a degenerate version of any other. This is a paper tiger which hardly
                            >> > needs anyone to shout in capital letters to see it off.
                            >> >
                            >> > 2. What the blues ladies (I don¹t need to shout) did (what the hell is
                            >> > ³supposed² about them) was not only to record, but to tour the length and
                            >> > breadth of the country performing not only at urban theatres but
                            >> penetrating
                            >> > deep into rural areas. Until I read ³Ragged But Right² I certainly did not
                            >> > appreciate this and no one else did unless they had actually read the
                            >> > material and associated comment in the Indianapolis Freeman. This was going
                            >> > on for at least two decades before recording which is a late response to >>
                            the
                            >> > existence/emergence of the market. No theory of the development of blues or
                            >> > jazz which fails to take this data into account is worth doodly-squat.
                            >> > Seroff and Abbott subtitled their book ³The Dark Pathway to Blues and Jazz²
                            >> > and they were right to do so.
                            >> >
                            >> > By the way, it¹s not a discovery that the profoundly racist Edison knew
                            >> > nothing about African-American music. Much more interesting than the hiring
                            >> > of African-American concert artists to record something that could be
                            >> > marketed as blues are the actual blues singers who apart from their
                            >> rhythmic
                            >> > characteristics could be Edwardian parlor singers. And yes, I do think this
                            >> > is trying to tell us something.
                            >> >
                            >> > on 01/08/2009 20:05, ROBERT R. CALDER at serapion@btinternet .com wrote:
                            >> >
                            >>>> >> >
                            >>>> >> >
                            >>>> >> >
                            >>>> >> >
                            >>>> >> > Where did the ladies get the blues music from ????
                            >>>> >> >  
                            >>>> >> > Patton and company certainly drew on their own resources and rural
                            >>> >> traditions
                            >>>> >> > alive near them. They are hardly degenerate versions of anything.
                            >>>> Also, as
                            >>> >> the
                            >>>> >> > late Eddie Lambert wrote of Sleepy John Estes THIS MUSIC IS MUSIC AND
                            >>>> ISN'T
                            >>>> >> > PRE-ANYTHING!
                            >>>> >> >  
                            >>>> >> > Then there is the drivel about blues piano having developed from blues
                            >>> >> guitar,
                            >>>> >> > as if somehow bluesmen had to rehearse some history of the development
                            of
                            >>>> >> > keyboard instruments. I am sure musicians learned the instruments they
                            did
                            >>>> >> > because they were there, and convenient. The Shetland islands are
                            >>>> noted for
                            >>>> >> > fiddle music, the fiddle having been introduced when a shipmaster from
                            >>> >> Germany
                            >>>> >> > loaded his empty hold with cheap fiddles on the way to collect cargo
                            from
                            >>>> >> > there. The previously dominant norse instrument was supplanted.
                            >>>> >> >  
                            >>>> >> >  
                            >>>> >> > What the supposed BLUES LADIES did was to record, and kindle the
                            >>>> enthusiasm
                            >>>> >> > for blues which conditioned the selection of what material got
                            >>>> recorded
                            >>> >> from
                            >>>> >> > among the repertoires of various rural-based descendants of slaves. 
                            >>>> >> > The blues form was a discovery from among numerous song-forms
                            >>>> combining
                            >>> >> with
                            >>>> >> > various feelings and the need to express them. Quite possibly the form
                            >>>> >> > established itself among wandering musicians not above using home-made
                            >>>> >> > instruments. It caught on, apparently.
                            >>>> >> >  
                            >>>> >> > The selling term BLUES was applied in the 1920s with all the tin-eared
                            >>>> >> > crassness of people who think music convertible into money and vice
                            >>>> versa.
                            >>> >> The
                            >>>> >> > Edison company signed up one young lady on the basis of her vocal
                            >>>> endowment
                            >>>> >> > and skin hue with the suggestion on her contract that she could be
                            >>>> used to
                            >>>> >> > record BLUES. Beverley Sills or Caruso were no further away from the
                            >>>> idiom
                            >>>> >> > than she was!  Note the number of BLUES titles which aren't blues in
                            form
                            >>>> >> >  
                            >>>> >> > If you listen to a lot of earlier recordings of found music and
                            >>>> recordings
                            >>> >> by
                            >>>> >> > the Mississippi John Hurt etc. generation, you'll find an amazing
                            >>>> variety
                            >>>> >> > including the square music of Fletcher Henderson's first bands, and
                            even
                            >>> >> some
                            >>>> >> > antecedents of the Grand Ole Opry playing decent jazz. And there are
                            all
                            >>>> >> > manner of things in common between folk musicians and early jazzmen
                            >>>> which
                            >>> >> got
                            >>>> >> > left behind.  I was amused to hear a recording of Michael White trying
                            to
                            >>> >> play
                            >>>> >> > a Klezmer number and sounding not unlike Tiny Parham eighty years
                            >>>> >> > earlier. Music simply became more specialised in its public
                            >>>> presentations.
                            >>>> >> > Or found definitive expressive forms, In a real sense the blues
                            >>>> pattern was
                            >>>> >> > latent in the conditions of music, and was discovered rather than
                            >>> >> created.  
                            >>>> >> >  
                            >>>> >> >  
                            >>>> >> > OF COURSE IF YOU READ PAUL OLIVER YOU WILL NOTE THE OBSERVATION THAT
                            IN
                            >>> >> AFRICA
                            >>>> >> > AND IN THE USA ALIKE THERE WERE BOTH SOLO PERFORMERS AND BANDS IN THE
                            >>>> >> > TWENTIETH CENTURY AND EARLIER AND THE NOTION THAT SOME PROTO JOHN LEE
                            >>> >> HOOKERS
                            >>>> >> > GOT TOGETHER TO COMPASS A COMBINATION OF SOLOISTS AND BEGINNING OF
                            >>>> BANDS IS
                            >>>> >> > JUST RUBBISH.
                            >>>> >> > Perhaps the first bands were created when it was discovered that
                            >>>> musical
                            >>>> >> > advantages could be secured by only some members of a tribe singing
                            >>>> etc? 
                            >>>> >> >  
                            >>>> >> >  
                            >>>> >> > RRC
                            >>>> >> >  
                            >>>> >> >  
                            >>>> >> >  
                            >>>> >> >
                            >>>> >> > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            >>>> >> >
                            >>>> >> >
                            >>>> >> >
                            >>>> >> >
                            >>>>>> >>> >>
                            >>>> >> >
                            >>>> >> >
                            >>>> >> > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                            >>>> >> > howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
                            >>>> >> > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
                            >>>> >> >
                            >> >
                            >> > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            >> >
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                            >> >
                            >> >
                            >> >
                            >> >
                            >>> >>
                            >> >
                            >> >
                            >> > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                            >> > howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
                            >> > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
                            >> >
                            >
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                            >
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                            >
                            >
                            >>
                            >
                            >
                            > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
                            > howard@...
                            > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
                            >



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