Jazz at 100 Hour 24: Bebop’s Twin – Rhythm and Blues (1939 – 1951)

Louis Jordan

Some of the same forces that launched Bebop as a break from Big Band Swing, also fueled the birth of Rhythm and Blues – the rise of independent labels in the wake of the recording ban of 1942 – 1944, the economic infeasibility of touring with 16-member orchestras, the decline of dance halls in the aftermath of the war, and the rise of juke boxes and radio as primary entertainment media. Bebop and R&B also shared the big bands as a common pool of musicians who used that platform to explore the harmonically-rich alternative to swing in bebop and the rhythmically propelled alternative in R&B.

” When the two-year recording strike ended in 1944, two new musics suddenly flowered, each having mutated in relative privacy as enforced by the ban: in jazz, the byword was bebop, and Charlie Parker was its avatar; in pop, the coming fashion was rhythm and blues, with which Louis Jordan attracted capacity audiences.” – Gary Giddens

We are joined in this hour by Dave Rogers – educator, long-time WTJU announcer and student of R&B.

Lionel Hampton.
“Under Lionel’s leadership, the Hampton band played its feelings. Recognizing that excitement was its main objective, Leonard Feather contends in his Encyclopedia of Jazz that the band ‘gradually reduced its musicianship and by the early ‘50s has become as much a rhythm-and-blues as a jazz attraction, with circus overtones.’ Regardless of this jazz-critic snobbery toward R & B, the Hampton band was not concerned simply with showing its musicianship. It did not separate itself from its audience as an elite craft group, but sought to move its listeners as well as entertain them.” – Arnold Shaw

The Jumpin’ Jive. Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra
(Rex Stewart-cor, Lawrence Brown-tb, Harry Carney-bs, Lionel Hampton-vib/voc, Clyde Hart-p, Billy Taylor-b, Sonny Greer-d). 9/13/1939.
Flying Home. Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra
(Ernie Royal-tp, Eddie Hutchinson-tp, Mannie Klein-tp, Jack Trainer-tp, Fred Beckett-tb, Sonny Craven-tb, Harry Sloan-tb, Marshall Royal-cl/as, Ray Perry-bs/vln, Illinois Jacquet-ts, Eddie Barefield-ts, Jack McVea-ts, Lionel Hampton-vib, Milt Buckner-p, Irving Ashby-g, Vernon Alley, Lee Young-d). 5/26/1942.

Lucky Millinder.
In 1944, “[t]he music industry was only beginning to awaken to the changing tastes and increased purchasing power of black audiences. Still, the signs were clear for those who cared to read them. An aggressively populist approach was paying off handsomely for bandleaders like Lionel Hampton, Cootie Williams, Erskine Hawkins, Lucky Millinder (who had just hired blues shouter Wynonie Harris in April), and Louis Jordan (a former sideman with Chick Webb’s orchestra whose small combo called the Tympany Five placed a string of records on the Harlem Hit Parade beginning in 1942.)” – Scott DeVeaux

Apollo Jump. Lucky Millinder and his Orchestra
(William “Chiefie” Scott-tp, Archie Johnson-tp, Nelson Bryant-tp, George Stevenson-tb, Floyd Brady-tb, Edward Morant-tb, George James-as, Ted Barnett-as, Stafford Simon-ts, Ernest Purce-bs, Bill Doggett-p, Trevor Bacon-g/voc, Abe Bolar-b, Panama Francis-d). 9/5/1941.
Who Threw The Whiskey In The Well? Lucky Millinder and his Orchestra
(Freddie Webster-tp, Joe Jordan-tp, Curtis Murphy-tp, Elton Hill-tp, Gene Simon-tb, Alfred Cobbs-tb, Joe Britton-tb, Preston Love-as, Bill Swindel-as, Elmer Williams-ts, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis-ts, Ernest Leavy-bs, Ellis Larkins-p, Lawrence Lucie-g, Al McKibbon-b, Panama Francis-d, Wynonie Harris-voc). 5/1/1940.

Louis Jordan – King of the Juke Boxes.
Coming out of Chick Webb’s Orchestra, where he shared the stand with Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Jordan paved the way for the small jump blues ensemble that became the core of early Rhythm and Blues. While Lionel Hampton and Lucky Millinder largely retained the seven brass – five reed – four rhythm format from the big bands, Jordan toured and recorded with a lean quintet, sextet or septet which he called His Tympany Five. His charting singles were frequently covered in the jazz world and his stripped down combo, mirroring the pioneering bebop bands, was widely imitated.

You Run Your Mouth And I Run My Business. Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five
(Louis Jordan-cl/as/bs/voc, Courtney Williams-tp, Stafford Simon-fl/cl/ts, Clarence Johnson-p, Charlie Drayton-b, Walter Martin-d). 1/20/1940.
You Run Your Mouth, I’ll Run My Business. Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra
(Louis Armstrong-tp/voc, Shelton Hemphill-tp, Bernard Flood-tp, Henry “Red” Allen-tp, J.C. Higginbotham-tb, Wilbur DeParis-tb, George Washington-tb, Rupert Cole-as, Charlie Holmes-as, Joe Garland-ts, Bingie Madison-ts, Luis Russell-p, Lee Blair-g, Pops Foster-b, Sydney Catlett-d). 5/1/1940.

Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby. Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five
(Louis Jordan-as/ts/voc, Eddie Roane-tp, Arnold Thomas-p, Jesse “Po” Simpkins-b, Rossiere “Shadow” Wilson-d). 10/4/1943.
Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby. Cootie Williams & His Orchestra
(Cootie William-tp, Ermit V. Perry-tp, George Treadwell-tp, Lammar Wright-tp, Tommy Stevenson-tp, Ed Burke-tb, Ed Glover-tb, Bob Horton-tb, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson-as/voc, Frank Powell-p, Sam ‘The Man’ Taylor-ts, Lee Pope-ts, Eddie De Vertuil-ts, Bud Powell-p, Leroy Kirkland-g, Carl Pruitt-b, Sylvester ‘Vess’ Payne-d). 8/22/1944.

R&B on Central Avenue, Los Angeles.
“The Los Angeles jazz scene of the 1940s remains fascinating [in part] … because its musicians sloshed between bebop and R&B with a great deal more fluidity than those in New York, where modern jazz, by the late forties ,was powerful enough to generate a circle of players that one could join and stay with exclusively.” – Ben Ratliff

The development of bebop in LA was aided by the launching of the new independent label Dial in 1946 (with Charlie Parker as its first artist). Similarly, the creation of Specialty Records in 1945 gave the emerging rhythm and blues music a home in LA. Early recordings for Specialty featured small ensembles with similar lineups to those recording for Dial, for example, Roy Milton’s sextet, His Solid Senders, with a trumpet, alto, tenor front line and Jimmy Liggins Octet, His Drops of Joy, with a front line that included trumpet, alto and dual tenors (one of which was the teenaged Harold Land, who would anchor the LA jazz scene for the next fifty years.)

Rhythm Cocktail. Roy Milton & His Solid Senders
(Hosea Sapp-tp, Earl Simms-as, Buddy Floyd-ts, Camille Howard-p, David Robinson-b, Roy Milton-d/voc). 12/22/1945.
Now’s the Time. Jimmy Liggins & His Drops Of Joy
(Glen Willis-tp, James Dedmon-as, Charles “Little Jazz” Ferguson-ts, Harold Land-ts, Eugene Watson-p, Jimmy Liggins-g, Jonathon Bagsby-b, Leon Petties-d). 12/27/1947.
Charlie Parker recorded “Now’s the Time” in late 1945, right before his ill-fated trip to Los Angeles. Local musicians, like Jimmy Liggins, would likely have heard him playing the tune during his extended residency.

Jimmy Forrest.
“Forrest had an almost iconic apprenticeship, working first with Fate Marable [in whose band both Louis Armstrong and Jimmy Blanton also apprenticed] and then, alongside Charlie Parker, in the Jay McShann band. He also had stints with Andy Kirk and Duke Ellington before establishing himself as a leader. Early R&B experience invested his work with a strong, funky sound, which evolved into something richer and more complex, but always straight down the line rhythmically. Forrest had few bar-walking mannerisms and was a surprisingly restrained soloist for this idiom. After leaving the Ellington orchestra, he scored a big hit with the mournful swinger ‘Night Train’, an R&B classic based on Duke’s ‘Happy Go Lucky Local’.” – Morton & Cook

Night Train. Jimmy Forrest Quintet
(Jimmy Forrest-ts, Bunky Parker-p, Johnny Mixon-b, Oscar Oldham-d, Percy James-cga/bgo). 11/27/1951.

Louis Jordan – Singing Black and Singing Proud.
“The late Ralph Gleason wrote: ‘The Mills Bros. like the Ink Spots were really black men singing white songs. But Louis Jordan sang black and sang proud.’ In songs like ‘Beans and Cornbread,’ ‘Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens,’ ‘Don’t You Worry ‘bout That Mule,’ ‘Somebody Changed the Lock,’ and ‘Caldonia (What Makes Your Big Head so Hard?),’ he manifests a rich appreciation of the modes, manners and living style of poor black people. R&B was so rooted, too.” – Arnold Shaw

Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens. Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five
(Louis Jordan-as/voc, Aaron Izenhall-tp, Josh Jackson-ts, Wild Bill Davis-p, Carl Hogan-g, Jesse “Po” Simpkins-b, Eddie Boyd-d). 6/26/1946.

Don’t Worry ‘Bout That Mule. Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five
(Louis Jordan-as/voc, Aaron Izenhall-tp, Josh Jackson-ts, Wild Bill Davis-p, Carl Hogan-g, Jesse “Po” Simpkins-b, Eddie Boyd-d). 7/18/1945.
“Tracks such as “Don’t Worry ‘bout That Mule,’ which put Aaron Izenhall’s bebop trumpet and Josh Jackson’s Jazz-at-the-Philharmonic style of tenor-saxophone playing to a new driving rhythm, are the primary texts in how jazz is connected to rock and roll.” – Ben Ratliff
“Jordan has survived mostly as a kitsch figure, except for the [1990s] neoswing revivalists who base their music on his and the few jazz musicians who still openly admire his playing. (Sonny Rollins is one.) But he was one of the most important American musicians of the twentieth century, even if the major themes of his songs were fried food, women with screechy voices, and getting piss-drunk in roadhouses.” – Ben Ratliff

In the next hour we will return to the frontlines of the new jazz of the mid-1940s – Bebop. From 1945 – 1948, Charlie Parker recorded a legendary body of work on the new independent labels – Dial from Hollywood and Savoy from Newark. These recordings will introduce some of the greatest names of bebop – pianists Bud Powell, Dodo Marmarosa, and John Lewis, trumpeters Miles Davis and Howard McGhee, drummer Max Roach and trombonist JJ Johnson.

The Jazz Singers – A Smithsonian Collection. Sony Music RD 113
Lionel Hampton Volume 2 – The Jumpin’ Jive. Bluebird RCA 2433.
Lionel Hampton – Hamp The Legendary Decca Recordings. GRP 26522.
Lucky Millinder – Apollo Jump. Proper Records PVCD115.
Lucky Millinder: 1943 – 1947. Classics 1026.
Louis Jordan – Let the Good Times Roll. Bear Family Records BCD 15557.
Louis Armstrong – Complete Decca Studio Master Takes 1940-1949. Definitive Classics DRCD 11172.
Bebop Story: Vol. 006, The Early Years Vol. 6 – Cootie Williams – Bud Powell – Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis (1944). The World’s Greatest Jazz Collection.
The Specialty Story. Specialty Records 4412.
Roy Milton – Vol. 2: Groovy Blues. Specialty Records SPCD 7024.
Blues Masters, Vol. 5: Jump Blues Classics. Rhino R2-71125.
Jimmy Liggins & His Drops Of Joy Vol. 2: Rough Weather Blues. Specialty Records SPCD 7026.
Louis Jordan 1946 – 1947. Classics 1010.
Jimmy Forrest – Night Train. Delmark 435

Chilton, John. 1992. Let the Good Times Roll: The Story of Louis Jordan and his Music. London. Quartet Books.
DeVeaux, Scott. 1997. The Birth of Bebop: A Social and Musical History. Berkeley, CA. University of California Press.
Giddens, Gary. 1998. Visions of Jazz: The First Century. New York. Oxford University Press.
Chapter 27. Duke Ellington (Part 2: The Enlightenment)
Morton, Brian & Cook, Richard. 2011. Penguin Jazz Guide, the History of the Music in the 1001 Best Albums. New York, NY. Penguin Books.
Lucky Millinder: 1943 – 1947
Louis Jordan 1946 – 1947.
Jimmy Forrest – Night Train.
Ratliff, Ben. 2002. The New York Times Essential Library of Jazz. New York. Times Books.
Chapter 15. Louis Jordan, Let the Good times Roll: The Anthology 1938-1953
Chapter 24. Charles Mingus: Charles “Baron” Mingus, west Coast 1945-49
Shaw, Arnold. 1978. Honkers and Shouters: The Golden Years of Rhythm & Blues. New York. McMillan Publishing Co.

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