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6

BeBop, Cool Jazz, and Hard Bop

I.

Bebop

II.

Cool Jazz

III.

Hard Bop

footnotes

1. All styles of jazz from Dixieland to contemporary are still being performed and recorded today. All style dates given are approximations of when each respective style came to the forefront of jazz and experienced its most concentrated development; of course, styles and dates overlap.

2. Miles Davis was an innovator in many styles of jazz, not just cool; he played bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, and fusion (more on this later).

3. The instrumentation of the Miles Davis Nonet was trumpet, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, trombone, French horn, tuba, piano, bass, and drums.

4. The instrumentation of this band is trumpet, baritone saxophone, bass, and drums. Note the counterpoint between the saxophonist (Gerry Mulligan) and trumpeter (Chet Baker); also notice there is no piano.

5. For information on ordering The Instrumental History of Jazz 2-CD set, click here.

II. Cool Jazz

jazz images 1

Chet Baker

jazz images 2

Dave Brubeck

jazz images 3

Gerry Mulligan

jazz images 4

MJQ

jazz images 5

Miles Davis


A. The Music

   

Cool Jazz was at the forefront of jazz and went through its most concentrated growth and development from 1949 – 19551

      

1.

Whereas bebop was “hot,” i.e., loud, exciting, and loose, cool jazz was “cool,” i.e., soft, more reserved, and controlled. 

      

2.

Whereas bebop bands were usually a quartet or quintet and were comprised of saxophone and/or trumpet and rhythm section, cool jazz groups had a wider variety of size and instrumentation. 

            

a.

They ranged in size from trios to nonets (nine-piece band). 

            

b.

“Classical” instruments such as flute, French horn, tuba, and vibraphone (vibes) were often found in cool jazz groups. 

      

3.

Cool jazz was a blending of jazz and classical music. 

      

4.

Cool jazz often included counterpoint, that is, two or more melodic lines occurring at the same time (counterpoint was a common musical device used by classical music composers such as J.S. Bach); this was different from bebop which had its focus on one melodic line at a time (i.e., each individual solo with chordal accompaniment). 

      

5.

Unlike bebop, much of cool jazz was arranged (written) ahead of time; in bebop the emphasis was on the improvised solos, in cool jazz both the arrangement and the improvised solos were important. 

      

6.

The first and most important cool jazz artist was trumpeter Miles Davis;2 the first important cool jazz album was his Birth of the Cool

      

7.

Other important cool jazz artists include: 

            

a.

pianist Dave Brubeck 

            

b.

trumpeter Chet Baker 

            

c.

baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan 

            

d.

the Modern Jazz Quartet 

      

8.

Listen to examples of cool jazz: 

            

a.

The Miles Davis Nonet’s “Boplicity”3 and the Gerry Mulligan Quartet’s “Bernie’s Tune”4 on The Instrumental History of Jazz5 

            

b.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Take Five” (click below): 

Audio Snippets

speakerspacer Take Five - The Dave Brubeck Quartet


B. Cultural Implications

      

1.

Cool jazz brought jazz music back to the mainstream; that is, it re-popularized jazz. 

            

a.

Swing Era big band jazz had been popular. 

            

b.

Bebop, because of its intensity and complexity, did not have the mass appeal of the Swing (Big Band) Era. 

            

c.

Dave Brubeck and other cool jazz artists brought jazz to college campuses in the 1950s, finding a new audience for jazz (before this, jazz was mostly played in nightclubs and dance halls). 

      

2.

Bebop was associated with the East Coast (e.g., New York); cool jazz was associated with the West Coast (e.g., California). 

            

a.

The California image of casual, laid back suburbia was the perfect backdrop and breeding ground for cool jazz. 

            

b.

Cool jazz represented the increasing importance of California to American society and culture. 

      

3.

Post World War II, American attitudes were shifting due to both a newfound affluence in the 1950s and a growing uncertainty of the future; cool jazz reflected (and contributed to) a subdued emotion and quiet intellectual control that had become valued in American society. 

            

a.

“Keeping cool” was an expression of emotional self-control in times of crisis that was found in American street slang as well as in the language of army test pilots. 

            

b.

After many labor strikes, Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act, mandating a “cooling off period” in labor disputes. 

            

c.

Fictional heroes like James Bond and Mike Hammer remained cool and calm while the world exploded around them. 

            

d.

America’s top choice of entertainment had “cooled down” from the nightclubs, dance halls, amusement parks, vaudeville, etc. of prior generations to television featuring shows about simple suburban life (e.g., Leave It To Beaver). 

            

e.

Due to the newly developed weapon of mass destruction, the atomic bomb, cool thinking was required at this crucial point in history. 

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