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150 THE INSTRUMENTS, THE SOUNDS, THE PERFORMERS
become far more complex in many interpretations, but the fundamental tonic-subdominant-dominant-tonic pattern remains (the technical aspects of the blues will be seen later in the examples of improvised instnimental solos.)
Clearly, much of the credit for the documentation of the blues must go to W. C. Handy. The esthetic credit properly belongs, as is the case with jazz as a whole, to performers in every populated area of the United States; yet in countless popular songs, as well as in the reminiscences of jazz musicians and in the writings of historians, the belief has been sedulously cultivated that the blues was born in New Orleans—another manifestation of a tendency to localize and specialize that has long been an obstacle to a true understanding of the origins of jazz, and is demonstrably unfair to the talented artists, both in and out of New Orleans, who are concerned with a truthful rather than a wishful presentation of the facts.
Jimmy Rushing, a professional blues singer for more than thirty years, affirms that New Orleans provided comparatively few outstanding blues singers. "It seems to me," says Rushing, ''that the blues didn t come out of New Orleans, but out of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas City. An uncle of mine, Wesley Manning, was playing the piano and singing in sporting houses around Oklahoma City forty years ago. Then there was Funny Bagby, a great blues man who was also a wonderful tenor player; he was well known around the Southwest.
"My father and my uncle used to tell me about blues singers that went way back before my time, and I know I heard blues singing in the after hours spots, which were known as road-houses in those days, way back before I ever heard of any New Orleans blues."
Almost all the early blues singers, Rushing attests, were Negroes. "The only ofay singer I knew was a boy named Jimmy, in California—can't remember his last name—he had been raised in Texas with colored people and he sang good blues."
Certainly the most influential of all the early blues singers, originally a protegee of Ma Rainey, was the indomitable Bessie Smith, from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her career as a recording artist began early in 1923; within a year or two there were