The earliest versions of Swing music have been around since the 1920's. Louis Armstrong with his Hot Five were among the first to put together all the different elements that make up the style we now know as 'swing'. It's a music you can dance to, that has elements of blues and was to be the stomping ground for Jazz & Bebop.
The first guitar players who recorded swing style music were Lonnie Johnson, Eddie Lang, Eddie Durham and Charlie Christian, each with his own very personal approach. Lonnie Johnson often played in smaller settings or even solo, with his feet firmly planted in country blues. Charlie Christian was Benny Goodman's guitar player and one of the first electric players. A featured soloist of Goodman's Big Band, he defined swing for generations to come. Jazz players owe a lot to the hornlike phrasing he developed and his soloing through chord changes was bebop before its birth in the 40's.
These players laid the foundation for bands like Louis Jordans' one of the most popular swing dance big bands in the 40's to mid 50's. Jordan took his material from old musical tunes, but also worked with chord progressions taken from the blues.
This swing blues, combined with country influences later that decade, led to the birth of Rock & Roll and Rockabilly. Elvis' guitar player Scotty Moore was an excellent country blues player who showed off these chops on top of a swinging rhythm section playing 'four to the floor'.
In the late 40's and early 50's the jazz version of swing was further developed by players like Kenny Burell and Barney Kessel. Burell likes to use relatively simple blues progressions to solo on and he's brought all the harmonic possibilities of jazz and bebop to swing blues.
In the meantime all these players were influencing each other, trading songs, borrowing licks and chord tricks, while listening to each others records and playing together. The electrified version of country blues was going through its own growth in places like Chicago and Detroit.
This broad spectrum of music we call 'swing' is what this book is all about. It is written in a way you can easily digest by building on material you already know: the blues.
It does not require the amount of study jazz and bebop demand. It will open up new harmonic possibilities in soloing and playing backup. And it could be used as an easy way into playing swing in a jazz setting. But if you want to stick to the blues, that's fine, too.
This music is still popular and being played. Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers, Duke Robillard, Ronnie Earl, Roomful of Blues, James Harman, and others are among the bands that play swing blues and jump. Even B.B. King cites Lonnie Johnson as his main influence. Sections of this book describe the styles these bands play, along with Chicago blues elements which have been a major influence on swing.
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