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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Swinging into the 30s

The transition from the Roaring 20s into the Swinging 30s underwent massive change as life transformed from an economic boom of the Jazz Age into the twin horrors of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Swing music actually began in the 1920s flourishing through the early 1930s during a time when America groped for a new beat, especially after the market crash of 1929.

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra
It was through the music of big bands where swing gained its prominence. Such bands played a major role in defining swing as a distinctive style of music, among which is the music of the Big Bands led at first by Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Jimmie Lunceford, Glen Gray and Chick Webb. Later contributors to the Big Band Era included Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, and of course, Benny Goodman whose band defined the entire era thus earning him the arguable title of "King of Swing." While the aforementioned is a list all its own, one name that surely cannot be left out is Count Basie, who was a leading figure in the swing era in jazz and along side Duke Ellington, an outstanding representative of big band style.  





Remember, The Swinging 30s evolved during the era of troubled times in America known as The Great Depression. In spite of the times of unemployment and lack of food, it was a great decade for music creating emotions of happiness with hope for better times ahead. Popularity of music varied and shifted within moods of blues and jazz, vocal groups and soloists.

A question arises here that is sometimes debated: Which came first - blues or jazz? There is no known specific date for the origin of the blues sound. Many believe blues came first having emerged in the first decade of the 1900s inspired by African American traditions. Jazz (ofter spelled 'jass' in its early days) was first used to identify music in Chicago around 1915.

Blues is a simpler and more rigidly structured form of music than jazz. Blues is usually intended to convey a feeling of sadness (via flatted notes), and usually uses simple chords with emphasized downbeats, whereas jazz is usually intended to convey a feeling of cheerfulness (via syncopated rhythm), and usually uses complex chords with emphasized upbeats. In short, blues is basically a fixed chord progression whereas jazz is a general style of rhythm and chord embellishment.  Read MORE...
In jazz, unusual tonal effects of musical instruments, such as the trumpet, trombone, clarinet, saxophone, etc,  heavily accent the rhythms. The prime musical instruments of the blues are the guitar and the harmonica. Of course, these are not the only instruments; the drums, bass guitar, piano, trombone, trumpet, saxophone are widely used for accompaniment. The most important instrument, however, in blues music is the human voice!

http://awakenings2012.blogspot.com/2012/10/wine-whiskey-and-women.html
In the 1930s, many blues styles were prominent. Perhaps the most soulful blues music that stretched from Memphis, TN to Vicksburg, Mississippi became the Mississippi Delta Blues. The earliest recordings consisted of one person singing while playing an instrument. The blues also assumed an urban vibe, and post-war blues incorporated an electric sound. Chicago became home to the urban blues. 

“I'm a bluesman moving through a blues-soaked America, a blues-soaked world, a planet where catastrophe and celebration- joy and pain sit side by side. The blues started off in some field, some plantation, in some mind, in some imagination, in some heart. The blues blew over to the next plantation, and then the next state. The blues went south to north, got electrified and even sanctified. The blues got mixed up with jazz & gospel & rock and roll.”
Cornel West,
Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, A Memoir

 
Ready for a little blues sound? Let's listen to the soul of Robert Johnson...
f the blues has a truly mythic figure, one whose story hangs over the music the way a Charlie Parker does over jazz or a Hank Williams does over country, it's Robert Johnson, certainly the most celebrated figure in the history of the blues. Of course, his legend is immensely fortified by the fact that Johnson also left behind a small legacy of recordings that are considered the emotional apex of the music itself.
Read more at http://www.artistdirect.com/artist/bio/robert-johnson/449973#R4stszAqywQX5ISU.99
If the blues has a truly mythic figure, one whose story hangs over the music the way a Charlie Parker does over jazz or a Hank Williams does over country, it's Robert Johnson, certainly the most celebrated figure in the history of the blues. Of course, his legend is immensely fortified by the fact that Johnson also left behind a small legacy of recordings that are considered the emotional apex of the music itself.
Read more at http://www.artistdirect.com/artist/bio/robert-johnson/449973#R4stszAqywQX5ISU.99

If the blues has a truly mythic figure, one whose story hangs over the music the way a Charlie Parker does over jazz or a Hank Williams does over country, it's Robert Johnson, certainly the most celebrated figure in the history of the blues. Of course, his legend is immensely fortified by the fact that Johnson also left behind a small legacy of recordings that are considered the emotional apex of the music itself. Read MORE...
If the blues has a truly mythic figure, one whose story hangs over the music the way a Charlie Parker does over jazz or a Hank Williams does over country, it's Robert Johnson, certainly the most celebrated figure in the history of the blues. Of course, his legend is immensely fortified by the fact that Johnson also left behind a small legacy of recordings that are considered the emotional apex of the music itself.
Read more at http://www.artistdirect.com/artist/bio/robert-johnson/449973#R4stszAqywQX5ISU.99


If the blues has a truly mythic figure, one whose story hangs over the music the way a Charlie Parker does over jazz or a Hank Williams does over country, it's Robert Johnson, certainly the most celebrated figure in the history of the blues. Of course, his legend is immensely fortified by the fact that Johnson also left behind a small legacy of recordings that are considered the emotional apex of the music itself.
Read more at http://www.artistdirect.com/artist/bio/robert-johnson/449973#R4stszAqywQX5ISU.99

Music was so diversified in the 1930s it did not stop with the big bands, blues and jazz. Country music became more widely recognized and out of the dreams of the Wild West and freedom it symbolized came the "singing cowboy." His popularity spanned radio and film singing of life on the trail with all the challenges, hardships and dangers encountered during long cattle drives up the trails and across the prairies.

As we leave this decade, here is a nostalgic tune from the Swinging 30s...

But we are not by any means leaving the Swing Era. . .




And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times. . .