Jump blues was a genre of popular music
in the mid- to late-'40s.
It consisted of a small to mid-sized band with multiple horns
, a bassist
, a drummer
and a vocalist
The genre came about through a melding of traditional blues forms
with Big Band jazz
, placing the emphasis on driving rhythms, pounding basslines, and staccato, shouted vocals.
In short, the precursor elements to rock and roll
As opposed to other blues
forms, the guitar
is de-emphasized to playing mostly rhythm. The lead instrument is generally a squalling, skronking saxophone
The lyrics tend to be simple, with an emphasis on sexual double entendres
and braggodocio. On a good jump blues song, those lyrics are howled or screamed, throwing the dancefloor into a frenzy.
This was the race music
that frightened white people
Addendum: As noted to me by user Transitional Man
(and quite correctly) a lot of what we consider "swing
," or did in that last revival, was actually jump blues. Bands like the Big Bad Voodoo Daddies
and the Brian Setzer Orchestra
were much closer to jump blues than to real, honest-to-God swing
. However, these recent musicians managed to take all of the tension and passion out of a form in order to sell it to white suburban kids. Don't let the Cherry Poppin' Daddies
stand in the way of discovering jump blues
Some important artists include:
Big Joe Turner
The best way to familiarize yourself with this genre is through compilations, especially those from the Mercury
label of the late '40s.