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BeBop, Cool Jazz, and Hard Bop




Cool Jazz


Hard Bop


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. The term funky jazz in the 1950s should not be confused with funk, a style of popular music pioneered in the 1970s. Funky jazz is characterized by its earthy, "low down," soulful, bluesy, and gospel flavored qualities, e.g., "Moanin'" by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers (IHJ). While funk also combines elements of jazz, blues, and soul, it is characterized by syncopated rock rhythms and a heavy, repetitive bass line, e.g., "Chameleon" by Herbie Hancock.

3. Although it can be a bit confusing, sometimes the term mainstream is used interchangeably with the term hard bop.

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

III. Hard Bop

jazz images 1

Miles Davis

jazz images 2

Jimmy Heath

jazz images 3

Wes Montgomery

jazz images 4

Clifford Brown

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Horace Silver

A. The Music


Hard Bop was at the forefront of jazz and went through its most concentrated growth and development from 1951 – 19581



Hard bop was, in part, a reaction to cool jazz. 



Many jazz musicians felt that with cool jazz, the music had become too “classical” in nature, that is, too European (not enough “blues”). 



Hard bop was a return to music that was more Afro-centric, more blues based. 



There were two factions of hard bop: funky jazz2 and mainstream



Funky jazz was relatively simple (simple melodies, simple chord progressions, simple forms); its essence was one of groove and feeling and was heavily influenced by blues and gospel music. 



Mainstream jazz was far more complex (more difficult melodies, improvisations, chord progressions, and forms); it was still about groove and feeling but added the complexities of bebop; a bit of arranging was often included as well (worked out introductions, endings, harmonized heads, background lines, etc.). 



For further examples of the differences between funky jazz and mainstream, click here; note that the term hard bop is used in place of the term mainstream3



The size and instrumentation of hard bop combos was similar to that of its bebop forbearer: usually two or three horns plus rhythm section. 



The most important hard bop group was the Miles Davis Quintet of the mid 1950s. 



There are dozens of important hard bop musicians; in fact, hard bop is the main style and influence of most jazz played and heard today. In addition to Miles Davis, a few of the most important hard bop musicians in jazz history include: 



alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley 



drummer Art Blakey 



tenor saxophonist John Coltrane 



tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins 



pianist Horace Silver 



Listen to examples of hard bop: 



Art Blakey’s “Moanin’” (funky jazz) and Horace Silver’s “Nica’s Dream” (mainstream) on The Instrumental History of Jazz4 



Miles Davis’ “Walkin'” (funky jazz), Sonny Rollins’ “St. Thomas” (a cross between funky jazz and mainstream), and John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” (mainstream) -- click below: 



also, listen to Horace Silver’s “Song For My Father" (funky jazz) click here 

Audio Snippets

speakerspacer Walkin' - Miles Davis
speakerspacer St. Thomas - Sonny Rollins
speakerspacer Giant Steps - John Coltrane

B. Cultural Implications


One of the key features of hard bop was its African American identity. 



Hard bop was heavily influenced by traditional and popular African American music. 



Hard bop's influences included bebop, blues, rhythm and blues (R&B), and black gospel music. 



Hard bop was undeniably Afro-centric. 



Hard bop, in part, was a means of artistic expression by young African American men to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the social, political, and economic climate of America at that time, i.e., segregation and lack of economic equity; hard bop reflected and contributed to the beginnings of the 1950s-1960s civil rights movement



Hard bop was mainly an East Coast (e.g., New York) phenomenon. 



Mainstream jazz reflected the fast-paced, driving, complex New York lifestyle. 



As in all major northern cities, New York experienced an increasing African American population, making it an ideal backdrop and fertile breeding ground for hard bop. 

Video Clips

videospacer Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers - Moanin'
videospacer John Coltrane - Giant Steps
the Herbie Hancock institute of jazz
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