Jump Blues Music History and Artists

The style that had more influence than any other on rock n' roll

A typical Jump Blues album
A typical Jump Blues album. Raicesdelsonido.blogspot.com

The style of hard R&B that came to be known as "jump blues" had its origin in the economic belt-tightening that came during World War II. Swing bands, forced to downsize to a rhythm section and one or two soloists, began to compensate for their smaller scale by playing harder, faster, wilder versions of the swing jazz they'd become known for, and also incorporating the blues that was just starting to make inroads into urban areas (thanks to the migration of rural Blacks from the South up into big cities like Chicago and Memphis). The result was the first example of "rhythm and blues," and also one of the main stylistic influences on what would later become known as "rock and roll."

Jump Blues Songs 

The typical jump blues song had a simpler beat than most swing jazz, usually with guitar relegated to rhythm and solos provided by a saxophone. In deference to the wilder music, "jump blues" lyrics were often more salacious than their other "R&B" counterparts, often featuring outrageous and even campy vocals to match. Although it originally began as an offshoot of the "boogie-woogie" craze, jump blues was less concerned with swinging the beat than hitting it hard. As a result, country and "country boogie" musicians latched onto the style, eventually creating rockabilly, while Black artists cleaned the words up somewhat and brought an even harder version into rock: both Chuck Berry's "Maybelline" and Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" are excellent examples of jump. Several jump blues hits became rock standards as well, including "The Train Kept A-Rollin'," "Shake, Rattle, And Roll," and "Good Rockin' Tonight." As R&B slowed down and got funkier in the early Sixties, jump blues faded from existence; however, many blues bands, especially those with horn sections, continue to record in the style.


"Hand Clappin'," Red Prysock

"Good Rocking Tonight," Wynonie Harris

"Rockin' At Midnight," Roy Brown

"Shake, Rattle, And Roll," Big Joe Turner