Sure, swing is fun, but why listen to the slow-paced stodginess of String of Pearls when you can lindy to that hot mess of jump blues known as Jump, Jive, an’ Wail? Granted, a little of the Ludwig Van is fine and dandy, but when all is said and done the hep cats just want to know Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby?
Now, many of you are thinking in your own unique vernacular, “What the heck is jump blues?” This redheaded stepchild of a genre is not so abundantly discussed as boogie woogie or R&B or swing, yet it’s related to all three styles and served as an important bridge leading to rock and roll. In most basic terms, jump blues is fast, jazz-oriented little-big-band chaos with intense vocals, call and response, humorous lyrics, honking saxophones and a pronounced swagger to its walk. The style first became popular in the 1940s and more recently has found a small but happy audience in today’s youth and elders.
Thanks to Hoopla, many jump blues artists are available for your listening pleasure, including Louis Jordan, one of the originators and standouts of this genre. Rooted in jazz, Jordan had a penchant for comedy which came out both in his music and the music videos he created in pre-MTV days. As one of the most successful and influential African-American artists of his time, Jordan scored hits with Caldonia, Choo Choo Ch’boogie and Five Guys Named Moe, as well as many more.
Another jump blues Louis, one who was the voice of King Louie in The Jungle Book, was Louis Prima. He also began in jazz and moved toward jump blues at about the same time as Louis Jordan. When swing enjoyed a short-lived surge of popularity with the younger crowd in the 1990s, Prima’s Jump, Jive, an’ Wail was practically the theme song of the movement. With wild antics on trumpet and an equally fierce voice, Prima was a jump blues standout.
In the modern world which we currently inhabit, Squirrel Nut Zippers are perhaps the most successful and well-known practitioners of jump blues. This frenetic small big band pumps out crazy jitterbugging classics such as Hell, Fat Cats Keep Getting Fatter and Ghost of Stephen Foster that keep the kids’ toes tapping manically.
Amongst contemporary jump blues standouts are such diverse artists as Four Charms, Atomic Fireballs and Mike Sanchez. Each captures the excitement that jump blues incited at its inception while still sounding as fresh as a frosty morning in Denmark. With all the heat of hot jazz packed into gilded shrink wrap (metaphorically speaking), these folk help keep jump blues alive and kicking in the 21st century.
Music is always hard to describe with words, so check out these recording artists to find out the shocking truth about jump blues! And take a gander at Hoopla while you’re at it. The diversity of artists available for streaming is downright spectacular. As always, be sure to tuck in your safety flaps.