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The American Black & Jazz

[[images - eleven black & white photographs of entertainers]]

With this in mind, the names mentioned here and the photos included in no way justify the men and women who have been or are the creators of jazz today. It's a sampler at best and virtually impossible to give credit to all.

Since the Blues is fundamental to jazz and steadfastly prevails as a major influence in every jazz style past and present, this provides a big umbrella to cover many musicians. The Blues has been shaped and reshaped over the years by most creators and corrupted by poor imitators. The legacy of the Blues belongs, though, to the Black American. Here again, the "melting pot" process left its mark as the Black American intermarried and mingled in the world community.

There is no human passion the blues does not touch - pain and suffering, hope, despair, love, fear, spiritual faith, humor, ridicule - you name it, and you have a right to sing or play the blues. There is a definite melancholic, rhythmic pattern to the Blues which every jazz ear recognizes. If you can't, then you ain't got nor never had the Blues.
W.C. Handy is admired throughout the world as "Father of the Blues," This is not to say Handy originated the Blues but he was a pioneer in bringing the Blues to international prominence and documenting it for the vast listening public. A superb, educated musician and bandmaster, Handy was the composer of such blues classics which became jazz standards as: "Memphis Blues," "St. Louis Blues," "Beale Street Blues," "Yellow Dog Blues," "Joe Turner Blues," "Aunt Hagar's Blues," "Ole Miss," and a host of others. Born in Florence, Alabama, November 16, 1873, Handy's autobiography, "Father of the Blues," is a treasure house of information on the history of the Blues. His birthplace is now a public shrine and in May, 1969, the U.S. Post Office issued a stamp in commemoration of the distinguished "Father of the Blues."

"You don't study to write the Blues you feel them," Clarance Williams, one of the greatest Blues composers of all times and pianist, once remarked, adding: "The Blues regenerates a man." Williams gave the world some of its finest blues - "West End Blues," "Royal Garden Blues," "Sugar Blues," "Gulf Coast Blues," "Baby Won't You Please Come Home?" "I Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None of My Jelly Roll," "Organ Grinder Blues." Eva Taylor, his widow, an outstanding blues singer, and still active in the international jazz scene, comments: "The Blues is basic to jazz because we're a blue people with every good reason. That's history. They were mostly men who wrote the blues and no one can deny Clarence is at the top of the list - but don't forget a Black woman really had the right to sing the blues in those early days." 

The Blues brought out a fabulous dynasty of female vocalists. "The Empress of the Blues" title belongs to Bessie Smith whose magnificent, mournful voice personified the Blues. Born in utmost poverty, 1894, in

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