The first jazz recordings were of blues and blues were a prominent part of the repertoire of all jazz bands. It is generally accepted that the first blues were created by southern, rural blacks. Those early rural style tunes were referred to as "The Weary Blues" by the musicians of the era. But, in a kind of early political correctness, whites have been almost totally excluded from the blues. They were an important part of the development of the music, however, and contributed many significant compositions and recordings. Blues soon left their rural confines and entered into that melting pot that was post turn of the century America. That's when they became exciting!
Recent research by ragtime pianist Richard Zimmerman has found that the first edition of the tune called "I'm Alabama Bound" was sub-titled, "also known as "The Alabama Blues". This piece was copyrighted September 28, 1909 and published by Robert Ebberman, New Orleans. Composer credit was given to Robert Hoffman who was an active New Orleans composer and music publisher. Previously it was thought that "Memphis Blues", "Baby Seal Blues" and "Dallas Blues" all published in 1912 were the first compositions to use the word "Blues" in this manner. These tunes or parts of them, had been around for quite awhile.
The nature of this kind of music was that it was not written down but was passed on from musician to muscian. Most blues pieces were never published, but were a part of the folk music. For this reason, it is apparent that the blues were well established before this music was ever published. Early blues are very much in the folk tradition and were passed from person to person. Blues musicians were often "rambling" men and this helped to disseminate the early blues and contributed to the variation in composition and performing styles. There are many blues compositions which demonstrate this by appearing all throughtout the blues era in various versions. "Alabama Bound" is a good example.