View Full Version : School Me on big Bill Broonzy
11-01-2009, 07:20 PM
Ok, I heard this cut by Jazz Gillum called "You Got to Run Me Down" and love the style of guitar playing on it (Jazz was a harp player).
It turns out Broonzy played with him, and, though it wasn't him on this particular cut, I heard some cuts with Broonzy that I liked as well.
What I'm looking for is less of the "accompanying myself with guitar" where Big Bill plays a lot of chordal, fingerstyle blues vamps (which is certainly cool) and more of the single line "solo" type stuff - so this may be more as a sideman rather than solo artist (as vocalist).
Basically, I want to hear him "playing lead".
It sounds like - from what I can gather - BB is the bridge between blues and jazz (a la Christian) and the pre-cursor to electric lead soloing, especially a la T-Bone.
I checked iTunes and there's only a billion recordings by Big Bill (and these probably don't include the ones he was a sideman on) so any suggestions for BB the "lead" player would be very cool.
11-02-2009, 08:22 PM
11-02-2009, 08:33 PM
Can't vouch for it, haven't read it, but heard it's pretty good:
11-03-2009, 08:09 AM
Ya can go back alot further than B.B. King if ya want to hear some sweet guitar solos in the blues or to find the link between blues and jazz. Memphis Minnie and Lonnie Johnson were flying on the single strings before B.B. ever strapped on a guitar. Minnie was playing an electric National and backed by a drummer in the late 1930s. Back in the 1930s, Blind Willie McTell was laying it down and every time ya heard him say "Kick it Six" you knew you were going to get a solo from Curley Weaver.
Although all the record companies wanted was the blues, every bluesman in the 1920s and 1930s played jazz tunes, as well as show tunes, ballads, anything it took to gather an audience. Folks remember Robert Johnson as a heck of a Polka Hound. A good place to hear the link between blues and jazz are the duets recorded by Johnson and Eddie Lang.
What B.B. King did was play in a style that appealed to more modern tastes.
Broonzy, along with Minnie, Jazz Gillum, Tampa Red, Big Maceo, and a few others are the link between the blues that gew out of the churches and field hollers of the south and the Chicago blues. These were the guys who brought the blues to Chicago in the 1930s and set the stage for all that came after.
Unlike Minnie though, Broonzy did not adapt to the new style of playing the blues and was seen as too "primitive" for modern tastes - a fate that he shared with many of the old players like Son House and Skip James. This is why ya don't hear Broonzy playing in a "lead" style.
By the way, there is a famous story of Minnie once beating Broonzy in a cutting contest, Minnie taking home the prize of a bottle of whiskey.
11-03-2009, 09:51 AM
Big Bill Broonzy's most familiar tune is "Key To The Highway" covered of course by Derek and the Dominoes.
HIGHLY recommend anyone check him out. Amazing guitar player and such a powerful voice. His voice on KTTH, Swing Low Sweet Chariot and such ol' blues standards as "This Train is Boudn For Glory" are pure gold!
11-03-2009, 10:01 AM
Check out the "Trouble in Mind" album. It's a favorite of mine. Big Bill shines as a complete musician. His ability to communicate real heart while singing a story is what I love about him. And his style of guitar playing is cool.
Also check out the Woody Mann DVD on playing in the style of Big Bill. It's pretty cool too!
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