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Jazz History - Presented By Verve Music Group


Jazz History - The Blues


Jazz History - Early Jazz


Jazz History - Swing


Jazz History - Latin


Jazz History - Bebop


Jazz History - Cool


Jazz History - Hard Bop


Jazz History - Third Stream


Jazz History - Avant Garde


Jazz History - Bossa Nova


Jazz History - Groove Jazz


Jazz History - Jazz Fusion


Jazz History - Smooth & Contemporary Jazz


Jazz History - Neo-Classic Jazz


Jazz History - The Jazz Vocalists

Jazz History - Bebop


Developed between the early and mid-1940s, "bebop" expanded upon many of the improvisational elements of the swing era. Young musicians including Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, and Thelonious Monk, influenced by the innovative soloists of the swing era (e.g., Art Tatum, Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young) began exploring more advanced harmonies, altered chords, and chord substitutions. A combination of social and economic events helped usher in the bebop era. As World War II ultimately drafted many of the veteran musicians needed to man the popular big bands of the swing era, many teenagers too young to be drafted were instead enlisted into the ranks of the touring road bands. Young musicians like Gillespie and Parker, as well as Stan Getz and Red Rodney, developed their craft at an early age by working with such swing masters as Jack Teagarden, Earl Hines, and Jay McShann. The war also forced cut backs in dance halls and cabarets due to imposed entertainment taxes, as well as a recording ban imposed by the musicians union between 1942 and 1944. In New York City, many clubs and after hours joints became the breeding ground for small group explorations, especially in Harlem. Clubs like Minton's Playhouse witnessed the development of this new music by bebop innovators including guitarist Charlie Christian, bassist Jimmy Blanton, and pianist Thelonious Monk. Disregarding elaborate big band arrangements central to the swing era style, bebop musicians streamlined their bands with four to six musicians, creating a vehicle specifically designed for exploring the improvisational elements of music. Using the blues and the harmonic framework of popular swing standards, beboppers replaced popular melodies with new, more complex bebop melodies. Staples of the bebop repertoire included such tunes as "Ornithology," "Donna Lee," "Groovin' High," and "Hot House." Their fast pulse and enriched harmonic vocabulary defined a new direction for jazz, no longer a dance music but a new art form unto itself. Rhythmically, the steady beat, or the quarter note pulse, was assigned to the bass player and the ride and hi-hat cymbals of the drummer. This new approach allowed drummers like Max Roach and Kenny Clarke to interact with the soloist by creating rhythmic accents with the snare and bass drum, often referred to as "dropping bombs." Initially, bebop received much criticism for its "break-neck" tempos that were too fast for dancers, and its melodies that lacked the simplicity of earlier styles. Complex harmonic sense was required to perform the music, leaving many swing musicians behind, who simply relied on their ears to guide them through the chord changes. As the popularity of bebop grew, critics and jazz fans came to view it as a challenging new art form. By the late 1940s and early 1950s musicians began to exhaust the standard structure and format of the bebop style. Looking to expand in new directions, beboppers including trumpeter Miles Davis, pianist John Lewis, as well as arranger Gil Evans and baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan began incorporating more orchestrated approaches to bebop. Eventually their first recordings became labeled "Birth of the Cool."

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