Early Jazz Pioneers with Signature Sound
These Early Jazz songs from the following pioneers in music kicked out an original signature sound, these “classics” gave Rock n Roll music an added dimension, a much needed kick in the pants, a scratch on the head, a signature sound. It’s like the envelope was pushed even further, an accent mark on horns, or measure, timing, and harmony.
“Green Onions” by Booker T & the MG’s
The undistinguishable sound of the Hammond organ was an afterthought, this song was a B side to their “Behave Yourself” record, the flip side “Green Onions” was a jam Booker T & the MG’s used to play to warm up the band. This simple but original 2/4 time signature song showcased the Memphis Sound with a grinding Hammond organ hook and electric guitar chop. This riff has been used over and over in movies and TV. A favorite of radio DJ’s in any genre. Listen here.
“Take Five” by The Dave Brubeck Quartet
This classic Jazz song has influenced many Rock n Roll artists. It’s called “Take Five” because it was written in 5/4 time as a friendly challenge by a bandmate to Paul Desmond, the saxophone player.
One of the first albums of the day released with all original songs, (each one written in a different time signature) radio executives were convinced this formula wouldn’t sell. Making a huge influence on Jazz/Rock Fusion, Take Five allowed people to dance in the clubs and become a cool daddio as an early 60’s beatnik. Listen here.
“So What” by Miles Davis
The first track on the Miles Davis album Kind of Blue is “So What” – a free jazz track with a great tenor sax solo. The song, just one of the tracks on arguable the best jazz record of all time, showcases his groove oriented approach to modal harmonies and a driving swing feel. Yes, for an instrumental, it does have actual lyrics talking about how Miles and Coltrane wowed them all with a masterful groovy sound, and if you didn’t figure it out, then so what. Listen here.
“Salt Peanuts” by Dizzy Gillespie
You think the “drum solo” is a new thing? Well, let me tell you my friend, they’ve been doin’ it a long time. “Salt Peanuts” is an early bebop song with Dizzie Gillespie doing a trumpet solo, fronting a big band, with Charlie Parker on Alto sax, and Sid Catlett on drums.
The cat call (“Salt Peanuts! Salt Peanuts!”) with the driving swing feel idea was actually borrowed from Count Basie, who recorded a similar just months prior. Maybe they were both at the same baseball game? Listen here.
“Bakai” by John Coltrane
In the American South in the mid 1950’s, racial tensions were on the minds of most intellectuals advocating for cooperative diversity. An idea not lost on John Coltrane, he dedicated this song “Bakai” (which means “cry” in Arabic) to a young boy who was killed by an older white man in 1955.
This tenor sax virtuoso John Coltrane plays this song with a mid-tempo swing that even gives a hint of subtle latin rhythms. Listen here.