Definition of blues noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//bluːz//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bluːz//
    Styles of music
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  1. 1 (also the blues) [uncountable] a type of slow sad music with strong rhythms, developed by African American musicians in the southern US a blues band/singer CulturejazzJazz is one of the greatest forms of music originating in the US. The names of its stars are known around the world. Most people have heard of stars like Ella Fitzgerald, 'Count' Basie, 'Duke' Ellington and Louis Armstrong. Wynton Marsalis, who plays in the traditional style, is one of the best-known jazz musicians today.Jazz was begun in the South by African Americans. Many of its rhythms came from the work songs and spirituals (= religious songs) of black slaves. New Orleans street bands first made jazz popular. Early forms of jazz created at the beginning of the 20th century were ragtime and the blues. Ragtime musicians included the singer 'Jelly Roll' Morton and the composer and piano player Scott Joplin. Famous blues singers included Bessie Smith and later Billie Holiday. Dixieland developed from ragtime and the blues and made a feature of improvisation (= making up the music as it is being played), especially on the trumpet and saxophone. Dixieland stars included Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet.In the 1920s many African Americans moved north, taking jazz with them, and Chicago and New York became centres for the music. This was the beginning of the big band era. In the 1930s swing music came into fashion and people danced to jazz. Radio and the new recording industry helped to make it even more popular. The big bands were led by Basie, Ellington, Woody Herman, Glenn Miller, and ‚the King of Swing‘, Benny Goodman. In the 1940s there were new styles such as bebop, developed by 'Dizzy' Gillespie, Charlie 'Bird' Parker and Thelonious Monk. Freer forms like progressive jazz and free jazz developed in the 1950s with stars including Stan Getz, John Coltrane and Dave Brubeck. Cool jazz followed in the 1960s, led by Getz and Miles Davis. More recent styles have included funky jazz, jazz-rock and hip-hop jazz.In Britain jazz attracts a small but enthusiastic audience. The height of its popularity was in the 1940s and 1950s, when large crowds gathered to hear big bands. British jazz has always been heavily influenced by US jazz. In the 1960s pop and rock music replaced jazz as the music of the young generation. There are now few jazz bands, although smaller combos (= groups) continue to play a wide range of trad (= traditional), bebop, cool and avant-garde jazz. The most famous British jazz musicians have included Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine, George Melly, Humphrey Lyttleton and Courtney Pine. The home of jazz in Britain is Ronnie Scott's club in London. See related entries: Styles of music
  2. 2 [countable] (pl. blues) a blues song
  3. 3the blues [plural] (informal) feelings of sadness the Monday morning blues see also baby blues
  4. Word Originmid 18th cent. (in sense (3)): elliptically from blue devils ‘depression or delirium tremens’.Extra examples He plays blues on the accordion. I plan a holiday as a way to beat the blues. She sings the blues in smoky bars. She was in the back of a smoky bar singing the blues. a bad attack of the blues
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: blues