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"Is The Blues Dead?"

thomsax

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Andrew Clark asked if the blues is dead in 2003 (Rock 'n' Rollsaxophone, Saxophone Journal). Most rock bands or jazz groups have some blues they use to play. I played bluessongs that Rolling Stones, SVR, John Mayall, ... made famous. Most bands they just play or sing bluessongs in a cover way.

After the old blues legends like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf. Sonny Boy Williamson, Elmore James ...... and bluessax players like J.T. Brown, Eddie Shaw, A.C. Reed, Noble Watts left us, I think some of the real blues tradition was lost? Where to hear the real blues today. Not blues covers or blues songs played played by rockbands ... I like that too but to get the right feeling for the blues is important ..... I like J.J. Cale and I think he is more blues than Rolling Stones when they are playing the blues.

is the blues dead.JPG
Is the blues dead tva.JPG
 

Jimmymack

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No, it just smells funny. I take it you mean the blues feel rather than the form because it’s gone through a lot of development since the people you note passed. How do BB King, Albert King, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Charlie Parker fit here? If I think of Blues for Alice or Chi Chi, they are both types of blues but I’m not sure they have exactly what I think of as a blues feel, so if it’s dead when did it die because jazz and rock draws from it and takes it to new, updated places.

I’ve been listening to Jerry Bergonzi lately and the blues influence is right there but is it blues? Bergonzi doesn’t have much culturally in common with early blues but I think the spirit is still there. I think you could argue that the Stones, and countless others have played in the blues style but neither they nor their music really embodied the meaning if you are looking for something on those lines.

Blues as a form probably is less useful and relevant now than it was 25-50 years ago, certainly in relation to popular music but it can and still does work.
 

Clivey

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I would guess that even today close to half of popular rock and country tunes you hear on the radio or equivalent are 12 bar blues.
Add to that the "R n B", Hip-hop and Rap that uses the very same.
Perhaps the traditional blues music has become a bit like Jazz. ie Americana.
But still relevant .
Perhaps even more so under present global situation.
The blues will continue to be alive and seminal to the younger set I think.
 

thomsax

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No, it just smells funny. I take it you mean the blues feel rather than the form because it’s gone through a lot of development since the people you note passed. How do BB King, Albert King, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Charlie Parker fit here? If I think of Blues for Alice or Chi Chi, they are both types of blues but I’m not sure they have exactly what I think of as a blues feel, so if it’s dead when did it die because jazz and rock draws from it and takes it to new, updated places. I’ve been listening to Jerry Bergonzi lately and the blues influence is right there but is it blues? Bergonzi doesn’t have much culturally in common with early blues but I think the spirit is still there. I think you could argue that the Stones, and countless others have played in the blues style but neither they nor their music really embodied the meaning if you are looking for something on those lines. Blues as a form probably is less useful and relevant now than it was 25-50 years ago, certainly in relation to popular music but it can and still does work.
I'm trying to go back to the simple form of the blues. The blues is a wide concept. I read blues songs when I play in a hornsection. But the first time I played at a blues meeting , it was the lick behind "I'm A Man" or "Hoochie Coochie Man" I don't remember, a guitarist sang what I should play. Just before the pandemic I was asked ask to join a Blues and Rock band that played old bluessongs in the way like Slade ocr Status Que did. I didn't get any bluesfeeling at all. The day they took the blues into schools, university .... the blues changed.
 

thomsax

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I would guess that even today close to half of popular rock and country tunes you hear on the radio or equivalent are 12 bar blues.
Yes, a 12 bar song with a bridge is even more common. Lots of popular songs are built like a blues.
 

Jimmymack

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The blues never stopped changing, making it part of a curriculum is maybe the final nail but Louis Armstrong was playing a very different type of blues way back in the day. It sound as if you are thinking of country blues which I guess is the simplest form we know but everywhere it went the blues adapted and got more sophisticated especially in the hands of piano players and once jazzers got going with it it’s innocence was gone.
 

thomsax

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Yes, I like to keep it simple. I have never played in an art galery with white walls. And I don't own a black turtleneck sweater. ;)

Country blues, country soul .... are easy to play. 8 or 12 bar blues, lyrics from the everyday life ..... . I often hear very good saxplayers, guitarists, pianomen ..... in countryblues. And don't forget the singers.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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Keb Mo teamed up with Taj Mahal and they toured together not too long ago. Yes they are older guys, but still heavies.
Catch one of their concerts on YT and you have an answer to that question.
Both guys still tour to sold out venues regularly.

Also, you have to look at it regionally.

Blues is very popular down here in the Southwest US. And interestingly more diverse than the blues I heard while living on the West Coast....which had little Texas/Southern twang to it on the coast.
 

thomsax

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A real bluesman (singer, harmonica, saxophone, songwriter ...) is Derrick Big Walker. He played with Bibb, Big Mama Thornton, Percy Mayfield, Albert Collins ....., He works(ed) with Ben King Perkoff as well. The are both from San Fransico. I think Perkoff is a CS member. Big Walker was the first bluessaxophonst that taught and opened up the bluessax for me. A great musician and person.

Lets put more fuel into the fire. Listen to Derricks YT clip " Why Many Jazz Players Can't Play Blues".
View: https://youtu.be/ulLr6DFu4aU
 
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JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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Mmmm....I was actually hoping that video would be better, honestly. 14 minutes simply to communicate the message "Jazz players overplay on Blues tunes".

....a pretty common critique from blues performers.
 

Targa

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Mmmm....I was actually hoping that video would be better, honestly. 14 minutes simply to communicate the message "Jazz players overplay on Blues tunes".

....a pretty common critique from blues performers.
Surely you can't be surprised that someone sticks their face on youtube and takes 14 minutes to say something which should take 14 seconds.
 

thomsax

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Well maybe it's a liitle bit too long?? Like lots of jazz solos. It can be cut down to 8 bars.

But I think Big Walker is right about self-confident jazz players. Like Big Walker I never play or give a jazzplayer tips and techniques for how to play Coltrane and Parker stuff. Simply because I'm not into that kind of music.
 

thomsax

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Back to topic.

I hope to get together some players so we can continue to play the easy blues. It's not so much what you play is more how you play it. I enjoy the predictable blues. Makes me feel good. But of course it's been many years since we had younger players that showed up on our blues and R&R meetings. Now it's just +60 years players left. I try to play play more songs from the early 90's but I really don't understand the meaning with playing that kind of music. Why play party music when you sing and play good old blues songs. Songs about nothing. Slow and laidback. A good bluesmeeting is when some persons goes into a room/house and comes out several hours later and nobody really knows what's been going on. We are just looking forward to the next seance.

A country blues performed by the swedish/scanian bluesman Peps Persson that passed away for some month ago. Recording into a cell phone from my computer. Bad sound. Too much bass. But that's the blues. Not perfect. Song lyrics is about the slow life on the countryside. Not much that happens.

View: https://youtu.be/tVfRvlSzoUY


"Keep the blues alive" and "Keep On Honking"
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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Surely you can't be surprised that someone sticks their face on youtube and takes 14 minutes to say something which should take 14 seconds.
I am both shocked and dismayed, actually....:eek:
o_O
(and perhaps a tad offended, too....)
 

thomsax

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I think somebody needs to introduce you to Joe Bonamassa. B.B. King "discovered" Joe when he was 11. He is the real deal. The blues is absolutely still alive.

Joe Bonamassa - "The Heart That Never Waits"​

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Up0GIUtSX9k
I often listen to Joe Bonamassa and I also like his keep the blues alive. A fantastic player. Lots of the blues Bonamassa plays is som kind of arena blues. Bigger production.
 

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