Two Jump Blues Favourites

There’s a lot of great jump blues songs out there, and some fantastic ones for swing DJing. I’ve been listening to these two a lot recently, and felt inclined to dig into and share why I love them so much.

The first is My Gal’s a Jockey from the legendary Big Joe Turner. Leaving aside the lyrics (OK -- I admit -- I can be a bit of a child, and I do find the silly over-the-top innuendo funny) -- but forgetting that -- the thing that makes this song so much fun for me is the sax players -- they, whether playing call-and-response with the guitar, or building up that wonderful set of rhythmic changes through the whole song, they bring an amazing sense of excitement and joy.

Then, to cap it all, you have Big Joe Turner -- one of the great blues shouters, and sometimes described as the grandfather of rock and roll -- giving us that wonderful laid back yet powerful vocal style that he was known for.

In short -- I love this song. Give it a listen…

My Gal’s a Jockey -- Big Joe Turner

Second song -- it’s Jay McShann’s The Jumpin’ Blues. This one is proving harder to write about. When I started writing this post, I heard exactly one version of it, but at this point, I’ve heard six or seven -- although the first remains my favourite -- and the more I listen, the more I love the song. Featuring a gorgeous sax solo from a young Charlie Parker, and wonderful vocals from ??? but one of the things I love about it is simply the lyrics -- which are about feeling better through music.

When you feelin’ lonely, nothin’ seems OK,
When you feelin’ lonely, nothin’ seems OK,
Forget your troubles and jump your blues away.

Or the last verse, which tells a message I wish I’d heeded a time or two in my life.

You can’t drown no troubles, boy that’s all a lie,
You can’t drown no troubles, boy that’s all a lie,
I’ll be jumpin’ the blues until the day I die!

The last verse being followed by … THAT refrain from the horns -- the main reason I am so hooked on this song -- a  powerful refrain which just kicks in, swinging like crazy and explodes into your senses -- the whole song builds up to this moment, and when I’m DJing the song, watching the energy of that moment that can sweep across the floor, or feeling it when dancing to the song is … like nothing else. This is a fantastic piece of music.

The Jumpin’ Blues -- Jay McShann

You can also watch some of a much later performance of it by Jay Mcshann in the wonderful Last of the Blue Devils -- which is a must-see in itself.

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