Last night I pulled out an old jazz album, as I prepared a forgotten music play list, Blues-The Common Ground by Kenny Burrell. When I picked up the album cover, I read the liner notes Burrell had written and I thought about the question that was asked on No Depression the other week. Should they cover jazz and blues? Here’s what Burrell wrote:
It would take several albums for me to express what I feel about the blues; so in this one I’m just presenting a small cross-section of my thoughts. The blues isn’t a matter of a particular musical structure, a rigid harmonic for – it’s a feeling one gets from certain music; and also the special way one expresses those feelings. The blues is T-Bone Walker, Jimmy Reed, The Staple Singers, John Coltrane, sometimes The Beatles and Rolling Stones or The Buffalo Springfield, and many others. One can detect a blues flavor in a flamenco tune, a gypsy folk song 0r in the folk music of most cultures, because the blues reflects the emotions of the common man. It is a part of one powerful force with many channels, and that force is the soul of man.
The real blues, as originated in the American South, has had a tremendous influence on all of the American popular music… and some tunes that are not remotely related to the blues form musically still have an intangible blues quality. That is why I’ve included the two ballads Wonder Why and Angel Eyes in this album. You can hear this same quality in the voices of many church-goers during their rendition of Were You There.
“Jazz” is a direct outgrowth of the blues and contemporary “folk/rock” music is very strongly dependent on the blues tradition. Both kinds of music have crossed geographic and political boundaries to become something of a common language throughout the world, one of the few positive areas that we share these days.(emphasis add)
John Mayall released to albums in the 70’s that joined jazz and blues together Jazz Blues Fusion and Movin’ On. Another artist who weaves many musical strands together in my opinion is Tab Benoit. The other day I was listening to one of my favorite Benoit albums Night Train to Nashville, which I think captures Benoit at his best from the great opening song “Night Train” through “Too Sweet for Me”, “Fever for the Bayou” and “Muddy Bottom Blues” this is a great album and any album that uses a song with “sashaying” as a lyric as Benoit does in Lousiana’s Leroux’s “New Orleans Ladies” is not singing straight up blues! The songs on this album draw a little from the blues, zydeco and jazz with great keyboard and harp solos by Nelson Blanchard (keyboard) and guest harpists Jimmy Hall (Wet Willie),and Kim Wilson (Fabulous Thunderbirds) together with guest accordionist Johnny Sansone, fiddler/washboard player Waylon Thibodeaux they produce an Americana blues sound!
I agree with Burrell when he says that blues reflect “the feelings of the common man” and is “a special way one express those feelings” I think definition fits blues, jazz, and Americana music!
Here’s Benoit’s version of “New Orleans Ladies”
Tab Benoit- New Orleans Ladies In Norwich N.Y 8-6-09