Kind-of. Thing is, "country and western" as a genre can itself be seen as "one half traditional folk, one half jazz." The "father of country music," Jimmie Rodgers, was a vaudeville performer/hobo who knew the traditional songs from the railroad workers, but who aspired to be a jazz performer. The result was a fusion of "hillbilly music" and jazz. He even worked with Louie Armstrong in 1930: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BFbY9Vw8DM
Western Swing would spring up a few years later, which is clearly part-jazz just looking at its name, and would remain popular through the 1940s. This was the "country and western" that Elvis was listening to. If you check out some of the tracks from the 40s, the electric guitar solos are eerily pre-rock-and-roll, see 2:05 in this recording from around 1946: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aChNp0ePdMg
Commercial C&W ( is there any other kind? ) has always been a melting pot, much to the contrary of its self-image.
And don't forget Woody Guthrie - the folkies claim him, but he left a big imprint on especially California, although there's no telling how far it travelled.
Past a certain date, most of the musicians in Nashville had a pretty strong jazz background. By the time Hank Garland was doing sessions, it slipped into the foreground. Most Nashville stalwarts recorded a jazz album or two, especially the steel players. Buddy Emmons had a really interesting relationship with Lenny Breau.
Bob Wills melded more styles together than you'd think possible at the time, and in places where there was strong Jim Crow. He was a giant and a legend.
I love this, I bought a copy of Emmons' Steel Guitar Jazz a few years ago and it's a fantastic album. I wish there was more expansion/experimentation in that vein -- are you aware of any other steel guitar jazz albums worth checking out?
> Bob Wills melded more styles together than you'd think possible at the time, and in places where there was strong Jim Crow. He was a giant and a legend.
I'm a HUGE fan of Bob Wills. My most listened to artist on last.fm by a mile, I've spent a lot of time with his Tiffany Transcriptions. I remember thinking about how his music was very close to some ideal of what music "should" sound like -- energetic, uplifting, exciting, danceable, diverse, improvisational, and most of all, fun. I love the rest of the western swing gang: Milton Brown, Hank Penny, Spade Cooley, Tex Williams, but Bob Wills really was the King.
Yes! Anything by Maurice Anderson, an awful lot of Curly Chalker, some of Lloyd Green... This is a pitifully incomplete list...
They are of course hard to find. There is always the Steel Guitar Forum.
> ... Bob Wills really was the King.
Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa used to have these... ten foot high face shots of Bob on the walls. Put a lump in my throat just looking at 'em.
FWIW, Leon Macauliffe taught/(teaches?) steel at Rogers State outside Tulsa. Take it away, Leon...
at 0:50 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftxl5tzIfXE
Bob Wills (damn, that pedal steel...): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFef08YZ6qk
Chuck Berry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RAfxiyMKAk
Wikipedia cites Wills' 1938 recording as the source, but it's fun to have the video. I totally believe Berry referenced Bill Monroe, I mean, Elvis' Blue Moon of Kentucky is a direct cover of a Bill Monroe tune. It's also thought that Scotty Moore's guitar style on Elvis' early singles was influenced heavily by Merle Travis' playing style ("Travis Picking" also see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8vOTKMqzw4).
>But the truth is that electric guitar solos are directly descended from saxophone solos via Charlie Christian, who defined his instrument (which was once seen as a joke among jazz musicians, much as the saxophone’s a joke in rock) by being the first guitarist good enough to cop saxophone riffs in cutting contests
I've listened to a lot of Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery over the years. The similarities to great horn players is quite up front, I believe.
One thing that could be of interest, if one were to actually write a book on the subject, would be tracing the cost & technology & 'market forces' between guitars and horns (sax) during the past 50 years - as in, if guitars got cheaper and better (amps, effects, etc), and saxophones kept a higher barrier of entry cost, that might be a factor in the transition. Also public perception. Like the hits Guitar Hero and Rock Band - I'm pretty sure there's no way to plug in an Akai EWI or Yamaha piece to jam out on, just because there's not really a market I suppose.
I think horns were traditionally used for these types of solos because they're loud and they really cut through the mix.
I think one big thing is the versatility of the electric guitar's sound. You can put it through different effects pedals to completely change the sound of the instrument. Wind instruments couldn't do this until the invention of the Varitone, but even then the natural tone of the instrument is still predominant. This is probably also why synthesizers became really popular.
I think another big factor is that the guitar (and other rock band instruments) is more "democratic". The guitar is more amenable to self-learning. It's cheaper than a wind instrument. Even beginner saxophones are several hundred USD, whereas you can get a low-end electric guitar for pretty cheap. It's easier to make a good sound right off the bat. Just press down a fret and pluck. No need to practice an embouchure and blowing technique. Really, the only hard part is to practice contorting your fingers into different chord positions. But rock musicians generally play a few simple chords, so this isn't that big a deal. And plus, you don't even have to learn to read music, since you can rely on tabs, which show you exactly how to position your fingers on the fretboard.
There was a discussion on /r/jazz on "Do average people (non-jazz fans) realize that jazz is improvisational?" And one answer is that average people don't realize how nuch improvisation is in music in general. The great rock guitarists often played improvised riffs and solos.
Guitars came in strong ( outside jazz/C&W ) with Sun Studios, but about the time Elvis joined the Army, it was Brill Building songs and piano. The Beatles then brought the guitar to prominence, but even then, almost as a stage prop more than an instrument - not to knock 'em as really good rhythm players but the solos were a bit rough. They caught flack for it, too.
One thing to consider - guitar players had to get better. Even for "stuff I'd played at 14" guys like Tommy Tedesco were ringers on everything recorded in LA until the bands got to where the members could play their own parts ( roughly at the time of Buffalo Springfield & The Byrds ). Same basic thing in England; Yardbirds/Zep and all that.
Horn players were already deeply established as serious players long before this, back to the 1930s.
Jazzer: "What do you play"
J: "What kind, sax, trumpet, bone?"
C: "There's only one instrument called "horn" you rube, and cor anglais doesn't qualify"
J: "Cor anglais??"