Hard Bop

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Cool jazz's reign as the prevalent jazz style after bop's demise was short lived as many jazz players, especially on the east coast, wanted to return to a style of jazz that had a little more grit and aggression. Hard bop was a return to some of the ascetics of bop, but also offered some new differences. Hard bop brought back the faster tempos of the bop era, but in hard bop the harmonic changes did not come in such rapid fire succession and musicians found themselves stretching out on longer modal style solos. The new emphasis on albums rather than singles also led to longer songs. Hard bop players also began to bring more influences from the church, blues and RnB into jazz which foreshadowed the coming of soul jazz. Despite an influx of avant-garde jazz in the 60s, hard bop remained the prevalent jazz style until the emergence of fusion in the late 60s. Hard bop has enjoyed many revivals over the years and remains one of the most enduring and popular styles in jazz. Miles Davis is considered an early innovator in the field of hard bop, but Art Blakey and the many musicians who played in his Jazz Messengers are considered to be the epitome of the style.

hard bop top albums

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JOHN COLTRANE Live at Birdland Album Cover Live at Birdland
JOHN COLTRANE
4.87 | 12 ratings
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WES MONTGOMERY The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery Album Cover The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery
WES MONTGOMERY
4.91 | 9 ratings
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MILES DAVIS 'Round About Midnight (aka Miles Davis) Album Cover 'Round About Midnight (aka Miles Davis)
MILES DAVIS
4.73 | 35 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE My Favorite Things Album Cover My Favorite Things
JOHN COLTRANE
4.72 | 43 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE Blue Train Album Cover Blue Train
JOHN COLTRANE
4.70 | 51 ratings
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HORACE SILVER Horace Silver And The Jazz Messengers Album Cover Horace Silver And The Jazz Messengers
HORACE SILVER
4.94 | 5 ratings
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LEE MORGAN City Lights Album Cover City Lights
LEE MORGAN
4.87 | 6 ratings
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ART BLAKEY Free For All Album Cover Free For All
ART BLAKEY
4.72 | 14 ratings
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JACKIE MCLEAN Right Now! Album Cover Right Now!
JACKIE MCLEAN
4.83 | 7 ratings
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SONNY ROLLINS The Bridge Album Cover The Bridge
SONNY ROLLINS
4.89 | 5 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE Coltrane Jazz Album Cover Coltrane Jazz
JOHN COLTRANE
4.71 | 12 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE Giant Steps Album Cover Giant Steps
JOHN COLTRANE
4.59 | 56 ratings
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hard bop Music Reviews

ANDREA MORELLI Waves

Album · 2017 · Hard Bop
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paperoga58
On Andrea Morelli's new album, "Waves", three close-knit musicians explore the expressive possibilities offered by the sax trio. If the starting point of the Hard Up Trio is solid hard bop, then these nine tracks show us how Andrea Morelli, Massimo Spano and Alessandro Garau can move the barycentre towards different directions. First of all, there is the groove of opener, "Australopithecus", and the slightly Caribbean reflections of "Waves". Then a quick ex cursus in the radical seasons with the thoughtful "Calma Platta", and the articulated path of "Rithim no Change". There is also the pressing step of "Toledo", and the more metropolitan and nervous dimension on "Sync", plus the calm and intimate blues of "Internal Space". A ballad, "Solitude", is interpreted with fluid intensity and then the final and fast "Jungle Bells", on with which the trio gets closer to the atmosphere of bop.

The sound spectrum is widened by the choice of the three saxophones used by Morelli: above all tenor, and then soprano and sopranino: in this way, the songs take obviously different accents, while maintaining a background coherence that animates the whole album and comes from the aesthetic foundations chosen by the trio. The jazz of the fifties and early sixties, are Andrea's heroes and his logic, the vocabulary of sound and the substance of language: the references to Monk, Rollins, Ornette Coleman or Wayne Shorter - but also to Horace Silver and Dizzy Gillespie and, of course, to many other musicians of those seasons - is filtered through the agile formula of the sax trio and through the always convincing interplay between the three musicians."Waves" is part of the traditions of jazz: Morelli, Spano and Garau let us understand how they have listened and analyzed the records of the jazz greats and have deepened and developed their own way of interpreting from a comparison - fertile and not merely imitative - with the notes and the spirit of those works. - Fabio Ciminiera

Tre musicisti affiatati esplorano le possibilità espressive offerte dal sax trio. Se il punto di partenza dell'Hard Up Trio è un solido hard bop, le nove tracce ci mostrano come Andrea Morelli, Massimo Spano e Alessandro Garau spostino il baricentro verso direzioni diverse. Innanzitutto, il groove dell'apertura di Australopithecus e i riflessi lievemente caraibici di Waves, un veloce ex cursus nelle stagioni radicali con la riflessiva Calma Piatta e con il percorso articolato di Rhythm no Changes, il passo incalzante di Toledo e la dimensione più metropolitana e nervosa di Sync, il blues pacato e intimo di Internal Space, una ballata, Solitude, interpretata con disposizione fluida e intensa e la conclusiva e veloce Jungle Bells, con cui il trio si riavvicina alle atmosfere del bop.

Lo spettro sonoro viene ampliato dalla scelta dei tre sassofoni utilizzati da Morelli: tenore, soprattutto, e poi soprano e sopranino: in questo modo, i brani prendono accenti ovviamente diversi, pur mantenendo una coerenza di fondo che anima tutto il disco e proviene dal riferimento continuo alle fondamenta estetiche scelte dal trio. Il jazz degli anni Cinquanta e dell'inizio degli anni Sessanta, i suoi eroi e le sue logiche, il vocabolario sonoro e la sostanza del linguaggio: il riferimento ai vari Monk, Rollins, Ornette Coleman o Wayne Shorter - ma anche ad Horace Silver e Dizzy Gillespie e, naturalmente, a molti altri musicisti di quelle stagioni - viene filtrato attraverso la formula agile del sax trio e attraverso l'interplay sempre convincente tra i tre musicisti. Pur senza rinunciare al proprio punto di vista, Waves si colloca nell'alveo delle tradizioni del jazz: Morelli, Spano e Garau lasciano capire come abbiano ascoltato e sviscerato i dischi dei grandi del jazz e abbiano approfondito e sviluppato il loro modo di interpretare a partire da un confronto - fertile e non meramente imitativo - con le note e con lo spirito di quei lavori. - Fabio Ciminera

STEVE SLAGLE Dedication

Album · 2018 · Hard Bop
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kev rowland
By the time Steve was 18 he was already playing with Stevie Wonder, and since the Seventies he has followed a path that has seen him lead his own bands, played in others, and more recently has been in the Slagle/Stryker band. Guitarist Dave Stryker is special guest on this album, playing on six of the nine songs, and composing one of them (there is just one other non-Slagle original here, Wayne Shorter's 'Charcoal Blues"). Each of the nine songs here are dedicated to someone or something in particular, such as "Sun Song" being for Sonny Rollins, while "Sofi" is for Steve's own daughter, Sophia.

When someone has been performing at the top of the game for forty years they are able to easily find star musicians to play with them, and each of those on this album need special mention as the combination of their talents is just superb. Lawrence Fields has an incredibly delicate touch on piano, either taking the lead, providing simple chords as an accompaniment or duetting gracefully with Steve. Scott Colley never seems to take a rest on his bass, as he moves all over the instrument providing counter-melodies, and drummer Bill Stewart is never content to sit in just one style or beat as provides fills, rim shots and breaks while somehow keeping it all together. Roman Diaz only features on five of the nine songs, but the use of conga and percussion adds a very Latin feel to the sound when he is involved.

Then of course there is the man himself out front, providing fluid solos and always leading the way. He also allows plenty of space within the arrangements so that his playing maintains its impact and never becomes just a blur of notes, but he keeps the soul of the music alive and swinging. There is always plenty of room for everyone to shine, and the vitality of the album is incredibly infectious. Music to make the jazz lover smile

THELONIOUS MONK Brilliant Corners

Album · 1957 · Hard Bop
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js
Not only is “Brilliant Corners” one of Thelonious Monk’s best albums, but its also considered one of the better recordings in the history of jazz. Don’t expect a lot of fireworks from this one though, instead, most of these blues based tunes are played in laid back medium tempos, or even slower, but do expect maximum creativity and a brilliant ensemble that moves together as one mind. Monk does have a particularly strong crew assembled here, with Sonny Rollins and Max Roach on board, plus Ernie Henry and Oscar Pettiford are no slouches either. Clark Terry and Paul Chambers replace Henry and Pettiford for one cut, but they too are up for the great interplay that goes down on this disc.

The album opens with the title cut “Brilliant Corners”, and what a tour de force this one is. This composition has Monk working with rapidly changing tempos and time signatures, such things may be more common today, but this was fairly new ground in 1957, and “Corners” still sounds very modern and ‘cutting edge’ today. This is followed by the laid back avant-blues of “Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-are”. Although “Bolivar” may not be as radical as the album opener, it still leaves plenty of room for ‘Monkish’ off-kilter solos and slippery interactions. Side two opens with the ballad like “Pannonica”, on which Monk plays the delicate bell like celeste. His odd approach to harmony sounds even more peculiar on this keyboard, the resultant exotic sounds might have you thinking that we are now in a universe parallel to Sun Ra.

“I Surrender Dear” is a standard that Monk plays in old school stride style and it is the only non-original piece on the album. Its presence acts as an interesting contrast to the more ‘out there’ aspects of the other numbers. The album closes with the Afro-Carribean flavors of “Bemsha Swing”, on which Max plays rumbling tympanies behind the soloists. Monk’s second solo after the trumpet is just splashes of sound and color, foreshadowing the world of avant-garde jazz that was right around the corner in ‘57. If you want to hear why so many jazz fans get effusive when discussing Thelonious Monk, give this one a spin.

KEITH JARRETT Bye Bye Blackbird

Album · 1993 · Hard Bop
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Steve Wyzard
"We will never forget Miles."

Miles Davis died on September 28, 1991. The Keith Jarrett Trio rushed into the studio on October 12, 1991 and recorded this tribute album. As Miles Davis tribute albums go, it's really very good. The potential purchaser is advised that this album ranks rather high on the infamous Keith Jarrett vocalization spectrum. If you're a long time Jarrett listener and familiar with his singing, you should have no problem enjoying the album.

Among the highlights are "For Miles", an 18:39 improvisation with an utterly amazing Jack DeJohnette percussion performance, and one of the best ballads this group has ever done, "You Won't Forget Me". After 10:42 of awe-inspiring poignancy, however, a major sequencing mistake is made by following this up with the hard-driving "Butch and Butch": the juxtaposition of the two is simply too harsh. Other than this, I have no further complaints and can highly recommend this album to fans of the performers. Special accolades must go to the aforementioned DeJohnette, as this is one of his best as part of this trio.

JOHN DAVERSA Wobbly Dance Flower

Album · 2017 · Hard Bop
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js
No doubt there is a lot of creative abstract intellectual jazz coming out these days, which is all fine and good, but sometimes you may be asking yourself, ‘where is the heat’? Where is that hot jazz that blasts you in the face with kinetic unstoppable energy. A couple years ago it was Walking Distance with their “Neighborhood” album that supplied some much needed fire. This year its John Daversa and his more fun than a drunk barrel of monkeys, “Wobbly Dance Flower”, that is bound to get you up to get down. What we have on this fine disc is a great blend of high speed neo-bebop, soulful hard bop grooves and anarchistic free blowing that all adds up to one of the hottest jazz CDs of 2017. Mostly known for his modern big band arranging, Daversa also adds plenty of interesting changeups and arrangements to keep these tunes far from anything cliché.

Opening track, “Ms Turkey” will grab your attention with one of this CD’s salient features, and that is the aforementioned high speed neo-bebop that exists somewhere between the worlds of Diz n’ Bird, and early Ornette with Don Cherry, but rendered with a modern sensibility that shows no trace of nostalgia. “Be Free”, as the title would suggest, is a free jazz jam that uses the same up tempo bop as a starting point, but then utilizes modern tempo changes that shift and dissolve without warning. Things cool out for the soulful and melodic “Brooklyn Still”, as well as the B3 groove of “Jazz Heads”. “Meet Me at the Airport” is a another B3 soul jazz number that closes with a climbing fusion riff reminiscent of Larry Young’s work with the Tony Williams Lifetime. After this, the album closes out with more short and sassy high speed romps.

The playing on here is excellent. Daversa has a clean and precise tone on the trumpet that recalls Clifford Brown, infused with the energy of Dizzy Gillespie. He is joined by the well known Bob Mintzer on sax and bass clarinet, as well as Joe Bagg on piano and B3, a keyboard player who deserves more recognition. Zane Carney, Jerry Watts Jr and Gene Coye keep things moving in the rhythm section. Looking for your modern le jazz hot, here it is.

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