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Bop, or be-bop in its full name, was a young jazz man's answer to the more conservative prevailingly swing music of the time. Developed in New York City during the early 40s, bop hit the international scene in 1945 and took everyone by surprise with its energetic and radical approach to swing jazz music. In the hands of innovators such as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Bud Powell, the old swing music was given much faster tempos and more spare accompaniments from the rhythm section which opened up space for rapid fire pyrotechnical solos. Still a favorite genre in jazz music schools around the world, many clubs still feature be-bop to this day, but today's bop sounds tamer and calmer than the original item.

bop top albums

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THELONIOUS MONK With John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall Album Cover With John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall
4.90 | 11 ratings
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THELONIOUS MONK Monk's Music Album Cover Monk's Music
4.74 | 21 ratings
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THELONIOUS MONK Misterioso Album Cover Misterioso
4.89 | 7 ratings
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THELONIOUS MONK Monk's Dream Album Cover Monk's Dream
4.65 | 18 ratings
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THELONIOUS MONK Genius of Modern Music Album Cover Genius of Modern Music
4.73 | 7 ratings
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BEN WEBSTER The Consummate Artistry of Ben Webster (aka King Of The Tenors) Album Cover The Consummate Artistry of Ben Webster (aka King Of The Tenors)
4.95 | 3 ratings
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ARTURO SANDOVAL Swingin' Album Cover Swingin'
4.92 | 3 ratings
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THELONIOUS MONK Criss Cross Album Cover Criss Cross
4.58 | 10 ratings
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CHARLIE PARKER Bird And Diz (aka The Genius Of Charlie Parker #4 aka Une Rencontre Historique) Album Cover Bird And Diz (aka The Genius Of Charlie Parker #4 aka Une Rencontre Historique)
4.60 | 8 ratings
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SONNY STITT Tune-Up! Album Cover Tune-Up!
4.75 | 4 ratings
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SONNY STITT Constellation Album Cover Constellation
4.60 | 5 ratings
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OSCAR PETERSON Night Train Album Cover Night Train
4.67 | 3 ratings
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Unheard Bird
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King And I & Around The World In 80 Days
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Quintet, Sextet And Octet Ensembles
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bop Music Reviews

LEE MORGAN Introducing Lee Morgan (aka Hank's Shout aka Lee Morgan / Hank Mobley – A-1)

Album · 1956 · Bop
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OK, having a debut album backed by Hank Mobley's band? Sounds like a good idea on paper, right? But the thing is... do Lee Morgan and Hank Mobley blend together? In all honesty, I'm going to have to say no in this case. Now jazz albums are something that heavily populated the music scene of the entire 50's, so by the time this came out, we had everything from '50-'56 to compare this to. This album doesn't really seem to have a lot of imagination. While everyone's technically playing well, the band doesn't really seem to have any sort of rhythmic or emotional focus. Every song either feels like it's a heavily extended version of a radio jingle, or a serene lullaby that should've gone longer. This all feels incredibly standard for a couple of greats in the jazz field. Underwhelming debut album.


Live album · 1995 · Bop
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Steve Wyzard

So identified with the 1930s-50s, many people are stunned to find out that Coleman Hawkins was still both recording and performing well into the 1960s. Even more are surprised to learn that he outlived John Coltrane by two years. Supreme, released in 1995 on Enja Records, is from a concert on September 25, 1966 at the Left Bank Jazz Society in Baltimore. This was recorded very near the end of his run as one of the most influential tenor saxmen ever. He was just short of 62 and dealing with a number of health issues that would shortly send him to retirement. Backed by Barry Harris, piano, Gene Taylor, bass, and Roy Brooks, drums and producer, his tone is nowhere near what it used to be, but he is still well worth hearing.

You've heard the rumors: so how much does Hawkins actually play on this album? Let's break it down, track by track:

1. "Lover Come Back to Me" (17:09): first 6 minutes, last 2 minutes. 2. "Body and Soul" (10:09): throughout (naturally). 3. "In Walked Bud" (16:42): first 5-1/2 minutes, last 1-1/2 minutes. 4. "Quintessence" (9:05): first 5-1/2 minutes, last 2 minutes. 5. "Fine and Dandy" (10:30): first 3-1/2 minutes, last 1-1/2 minutes. 6. "Ow" (1:27): throughout.

As you can see, Hawkins spends a lot of this concert not playing. While surely some of this can be attributed to his generosity with soloing space (and it should be mentioned that Harris, Taylor, and Brooks are all exceptional players), no doubt it can also be explained by the old, used-and-abused diaphragm not being what it used to be. It's easy to hear that those in attendance that night were in absolute awe of seeing a living legend at this late date. There's an especially overwhelming ovation after Hawk's opening solo on "Quintessence".

It should also be mentioned that there are some faults with the source tape that occasionally produce strange echoes/distortions with the recorded sound. If you can overlook these caveats, you should enjoy listening to this performance. But do not begin listening to Supreme with any idea that it is his "greatest" or even "most representative" concert recording. While he did start out in the early days of recorded sound, there are plenty of opportunities out there to explore Coleman Hawkins in his prime. Listen to this album for what it is: an old master near the end of the line, playing the music he loves in spite of the setbacks of age.

CHARLIE PARKER The Magnificent Charlie Parker (aka The Genius Of Charlie Parker #8: Swedish Schnapps)

Album · 1955 · Bop
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God bless Record Store Day, not only does it help support one of civilization’s finest institutions, ie your local record store, but it has also been encouraging labels to re-release classic vinyl albums that many of us thought would be forever unattainable. If you had told me a few years ago that I would soon be able to buy pristine copies of Charlie Parker LPs, I would have thought you plumb crazy, but then, here we are with another outstanding Record Store Day release in the form of “The Magnificent Charlie Parker”. This album was originally released in the mid-50s on the Clef album and it contains much of Clef’s Parker singles from 1951 when Bird was playing at his best. It’s a wonderful collection of singles all arranged in logical succession with no weird volume or sound quality leaps as you go track to track. Those who are familiar with some Parker CD collections will know what I mean by incongruent track succession.

Side one opens with four tracks that feature a young Miles on trumpet, as well as Max Roach on drums. Miles’ playing at that time was very clean and precise, revealing the influence of Clifford Brown, as well as Miles’ classical background. All of these tracks are great, with “She Rote” being the ultimate in bebop styled abstraction and modernity. The last two cuts on this side are exotica pop numbers with a vocal choir and small orchestra arrangement. by Gil Evans. Side two features Red Rodney on trumpet, possibly Parker’s most cohesive and inspiring sideman outside of Dizzy Gillespie. This group also features a young John Lewis on piano before he became known as a purveyor of 3rd stream chamber jazz.

Every track on here is excellent and its nice that the song choices lean away from show tunes and more towards bebop originals that really bring out the witty urban flavor of one of jazz’s most creative eras. I think there are only about 3000 copies of this available, so grab it while you can.

DIZZY GILLESPIE The Small Groups 1945-1946 Original Recordings

Boxset / Compilation · 1970 · Bop
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If you are looking for that unmistakable sound of early bebop on vinyl and don’t want to spend a bundle, then you might want to keep an eye out for, “Dizzy Gillespie: The Small Groups {1945 - 1946}”, on the Phoenix label. This is an excellent compilation that came out in the 70s and shows up in used stores and the internet for very reasonable prices. The music on here comes from five different recording sessions, every track features Dizzy, while other tracks feature varying bebop greats such as Charlie Parker, Al Haig, Sonny Stitt, Curly Russell and more.

Side one opens with a band that is more in a pre-bop swing style, but when we hit track five, Sonny Stitt and Al Haig have stepped in to push things in a more modern direction. The big revelation all through this side is Chuck Wayne’s jaggedy swinging guitar lines. Alice Roberts guests to sing a bluesy “A Handfulla of Gimmie”, and “Blue ‘N’ Boogie” features a young Dexter Gordon on tenor sax. Side two features Charlie Parker and starts off with a band that is competent, but not quite up to what Bird n Diz are capable of. For the second half of this side, Al Haig takes the piano chair and Curly Russell picks up the bass and now we are in abstract cubist bebop heaven. The recorded sound on “Salt Peanuts” is perfect for this era, unfortunately, the next three tracks fall off a bit in the high end department, but are still enjoyable and musically superb, the best tracks on the record.

DIZZY GILLESPIE Dizzy Gillespie - Charlie Parker ‎: Town Hall, New York City, June 22, 1945

Live album · 2005 · Bop
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When this full concert of Gillespie and Parker's quintet surfaced in 2005 it was a major event. A complete and previously unknown concert recording of Bird and Diz in New York in the spring of 1945 with full length performances (not limited by the short running time of 78RPM records) was the jazz equivalent of finding the Dead Sea Scrolls. Amazingly, the acetate discs on which the concert was recorded were found in an antique store nearly 60 years later.

The Town Hall concert captures Gillespie and Parker, along with Max Roach, Al Haig and Curley Russell, as they were just beginning to take over the jazz world. Chronologically, this gig fell right in the middle of a run of studio dates that would produce the foundational texts of bebop: Groovin' High, Dizzy Atmosphere, Bebop, A Night In Tunisia and many more were all recorded in this period, some of them not yet released at the time of the concert.

The show was produced by the jazz DJ Symphony Sid Torin, and he starts off the proceedings with a spoken introduction that sounds painfully corny to modern ears. (Torin returns throughout the program. His introductions feel more like interruptions, but for better or worse, his presence helps put the listener "in the moment.") Then the music blasts off with Bebop taken at a blistering tempo. At first the horns are inaudible, but the engineer quickly got the levels dialed in, and for the rest of the concert the sound quality is surprisingly good for a 1945 live tape. The quintet comes charging out of the gate with Gillespie showing off his virtuosity and Roach dropping bass drum bombs all over the place. Don Byas also takes a sax solo on Bebop, sitting in briefly for Bird, who was running late! In the middle of Byas's solo the audience starts applauding spontaneously, signaling that the Yardbird was in the house. Parker took the next solo and nearly lit the room on fire.

The intensity level never flags through the different tempos. Bird and Diz were playing with tremendous energy and creativity, with each one picking up his solos right where the other left off. Dizzy shouts encouragement while Bird wails on A Night In Tunisia before peeling off his own red hot solo. The tempo launches back into the stratosphere for Salt Peanuts, including an extended solo by Roach. Sid Catlett sits in on drums for the last couple of numbers, and he must have been a fan favorite because he was greeted with raucous applause. Catlett gets his own solo feature on Hot House before the quintet ends with a short version of what was already the traditional closing number of the bop era, Thelonious Monk's 52nd Street Theme.

The concert was issued only on CD by the independent label Uptown Records. The liner notes include an essay by Ira Gitler about the concert and his memories of the early days of bebop, along with plenty of photos, reproductions of contemporary ads and press clippings about the concert, and notes on how the recordings were finally found.

The 1953 Massey Hall concert is probably the best known live document of Bird and Dizzy together. By the time of that recording they were major stars of jazz and exerting influence on all who followed. But on the Town Hall concert of 1945, we can hear Parker and Gillespie in extended performances for the first time when they were still young and hungry, two young lions about to set the jazz world on fire.

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Albums with 30 ratings and more
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Blue Train Hard Bop
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My Favorite Things Hard Bop
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