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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MILES DAVIS 'Round About Midnight (aka Miles Davis) Album Cover 'Round About Midnight (aka Miles Davis)
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4.85 | 26 ratings
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hard bop Music Reviews

JIMMY COBB The Original Mob

Album · 2014 · Hard Bop
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Matt
Jimmy Cobb has been drumming for 70 years at the time of this recent release, “The Original Mob” and is best remembered for his participation in the classic Miles Davis album “Kind Of Blue” as well he contributed to 6 others with Miles during that period from the late fifties to the mid sixties. Played on half a dozen John Coltrane albums around the same time, worked with Bill Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Holiday, Wes Montgomery, Nat Adderley and his slightly more famous brother Cannonball. He states on the albums notes that it was through Cannonball Adderley that he was originally introduced to Miles but that all happened over 50 years ago. Today Jimmy at age 86 is playing his drums superbly and he has not lost any touch with age as evidenced upon hearing this new album from Smoke Sessions. If you are wondering, Smoke is a Jazz Club in New York and where the album was recorded. The club was empty at the recording time making the album closer to a studio session with great fresh results emanating from the one day.

Cobb’s Mob is the name of Jimmy’s band and throughout the last twenty years has gone through changes in its line up but with “The Original Mob” as the title implies the line up is precisely that from 20 years prior. Peter Bernstein the guitarist is credited with naming them when he and Brad Mehldau were students in one of Jimmy Cobb’s Jazz classes and it was Peter who brought in the bassist John Webber. Since this time Brad Mehldau’s Jazz career has passed orbit and one only knows where he keeps all his awards for pianist of the year after really hitting the scene when he started to release his “Art Of The Trio” albums back in the later nineties. Peter Bernstein’s career is not far behind Brad’s with Jimmy stating in the notes that he plays with a similarity to Grant Green the famous Blue Note Jazz guitarist. Peter has been leading an organ based trio primarily with Larry Goldings and drummer Bill Stewart since to rave reviews and worked with quite a few current big names in Jazz such as Joshua Redman, organist Melvin Rhyne, Nicholas Payton, Diana Krall, Dr Lonnie Smith, Tom Harrell and even Sonny Rollins. The bassist John Webber is another having played with Johnny Griffiin, George Coleman, Eric Alexander and freelance appearances with Etta James, Horace Silver, Lou Donaldson and a list of many more which one could add to all his past collaborations.

The albums compositions are a quite a nice mix with standards, covers and original numbers from the band with all supplying one each and Jimmy providing two of his own.”Old Devil Moon” starts the album off with John Webber’s bass coming in first being quickly joined by drums and piano. Peter Bernstein’s guitar provides a wonderful solo which is followed by Brad’s turn on piano over this fairly up tempo take. Brad Mehldau is an absolute joy with his piano input and it keeps coming with the following mid tempo George Coleman composition, “Amsterdam after Dark” where Peter Bernstein provides one lovely little groove again right across the top followed by more from Brad. “Sunday In New York” has a great skip for all the band to work around, “Stranger In Paradise” with its quick time and Jimmy’s cracker of a drum solo just keeps the album motoring along quite nicely. The album’s fifth composition “Unrequited” is from Brad with Peter Bernstein’s guitar dropped and Brad plays with that beautiful touch that he has on piano with John Webber’s bass providing a wonderful counter and solo combined with Jimmy’s stick work and drumming. Great stuff. The two Jimmy Cobb compositions follow providing plenty of groove from “Composition 101”with the next, “Remembering U” being the album’s only ballad. The standard “Nobody Else But Me” is next with the Peter Bernstein composition “Minor Blues” following being quite a delight. John Webber’s composition “Lickety Split” with it’s up tempo timing and stellar contributions from Peter Bernstein’s guitar and Jimmy’s drum solo brings the album to a close.

Fabulous Jazz with plenty of good old fashioned Bop. Peter Bernstein and his guitar almost steal the show but with such other wonderful musicians present he did not quite get away with it. Highly recommended new release from a smokin’ new Jazz label, Smoke Sessions Records.

BOBBY HUTCHERSON Enjoy the View

Album · 2014 · Hard Bop
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Matt
Back in 1976 Bobby was looking at “The View From The Inside” with his 2nd last Blue Note recording before the Label folded for a period lasting to the mid eighties but this time with his newest release Bobby recommends to “Enjoy The View” and yes, it is on Blue Note. Bobby Hutcherson is one of Jazz music’s greats having played vibraphone on so many albums that today are considered classics in this genre with a myriad of styles with many fans still trying to work out whether it is his Bop or early Avante Garde contributions, they enjoy better. “Enjoy The View” is Bobby Hutcherson’s return to Blue Note records after an hiatus of 37 years and with a period away for this length of time you would expect nothing but the best and Don Was being Blue Note’s President within EMI is the album’s Producer. Could one find a better Producer having recorded so many artists with styles ranging from Country to Algerian Rai but this time it is some great Boppin’ Jazz. Bobby first recorded for Blue Note in 1963 ( Jackie McLean sideman)and stayed with the label till it’s brief demise in 1979 with Horace Silver the pianist being the only other artist still remaining from the Classic period during the time that Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff owned it.

Joey DeFrancesco provides organ for the album and with the addition of trumpet on one of the compositions and having been playing with Bobby for a few years and been included on his last Live album brings a wonderful understanding and feel to the music. David Sanborn is playing alto saxophone with his unique slightly abrasive tone and he also has been recently performing in Joey DeFrancesco’s trio and provides beautiful input with his addition. Both musicians also provide two compositions of their own to the album . The great Billy Hart is drumming who is currently signed with ECM and doing an absolutely fantastic job for someone who is 74 and last but not least is Bobby Hutcherson on vibraphone who has one up on Billy being 73 years of age at the present time of this album’s release. All of these artists have practically played with the entire Jazz community at some time, if all their projects, bands etc were combined in a group . All this experience shows with the music one hears performed by the band during the album’s duration

There are seven compositions contained on the record with David Sanborn’s “Delia” commencing the album where David employs his wonderful abrasive alto saxophone tone during a solo interlinked with space and varying twists to open. Bobby follows with that sparse technique that he employs when playing vibes with Joey DeFrancesco providing an ample laid back groove from Hammond organ and adding quite a nice little solo to follow Bobby’s. “Don Is” is Joey’s turn for a composition and perhaps a hat tip to Don Was which has a slight Avante touch used for the tunes opening with a wonderful mid tempo groove provided for Bobby’s vibes to lead us in. “Hey Harold” was previously included from Bobby’s “Head On” album in 1971 but the duration is not so long for this interpretation coming in at 7 minutes whereas the original was 20 with its slow tempo opening but the tune motors along quite nicely in no time and this is where Joey DeFrancesco provides some wonderful high loopy trumpet during the composition’s beginning and end, combining interplay between him and Bobby and is a lovely quick highlight. David Sanborn and Billy Hart are also superb with their input to this number. “Little Flower” is another Sanborn composition at a slower tempo than the previous with David Sanborn playing an extremely interesting beautiful solo and providing most of the tune’s lead sound. “Montara” is another of Bobby’s compositions given a new life with quite a nice variation which came from the album of the same name he released back in 1975, which is followed by a new up tempo composition from Bobby named “Teddy” with lots of drive and superb musicianship contained within from the entire band. The last track is ‘You” being another Joey De Francesco composition with some great flow coming from the band throughout this mid tempo number.

Wonderful return to his old label for Bobby Hutcherson, great band, great compositions and a great record is the result. For myself I would get it alone for David Sanborn’s superb saxophone input as I just love how he puts his solo’s together. This album is not “Dialogue”, “Stick Up” , “Happenings” or “Total Eclipse” it is a something a little different from Bobby this time. Great to see that he is still moving along nicely in his career and not sitting in the one spot after all this time which would have been so easy to do. Takes a few listens and what is better, there is constantly new things to hear each time from the entire band throughout the record with every play.

ARCHIE SHEPP Tray of Silver

Album · 1979 · Hard Bop
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snobb
Late seventies were the time when world is turned over for all generation of yesterday adventurous jazz stars who became famous in late 60s and continued to enjoy success in early 70s. Musical fashion has been changed dramatically and one morning many of them woke up jobless,sometime even homeless and as rule - useless.Not so many of them survived these and upcoming years successfully, fortunately Archie Shepp did. To pay his bills he just started to record music on request,playing what labels wanted him to be played. During second half of decade Shepp released lot of albums of varied quality and even more varied stylistic, but what helped him to survive that difficult time was good old hard bop (not so obvious choice for Shepp who didn't come to late 60s avant-garde jazz from hard-bop scene, as many others,though).In some European scenes and more important - in Japan hard bop just displaced rapidly disappearing avant-garde jazz for some years, Archie Shepp found his new listener here.

From impressive amount of Shepp releases coming from mentioned era there are some still very adventurous albums,lot of hard bop based music with still his freer touch here and there and few very straight works, "Tray Of Silver" is one of them.

Four quite long compositions, three of which are Horace Silver originals, acoustic boppish quartet with Yusef Lateef and Horace Silver himself drummer Roy Brooks,one-time Art Blakey Jazz Messangers pianist Mickey Tucker,Gil Evans tuba/baritone player Howard Johnson and Japanese bassist (who released album with Herbie Hancock on same Denon label two years ago).Recorded in Tokyo's studio, album has characteristic warm,deep and clear "Japanese" sound. All musicians are high-class so the music is well played but biggest surprise, at least for old Shepp's fans is how safe he plays here. If on many his other hard bop - based albums from the same time he doesn't avoid risky improvisations and even some dissonant,explosive soloing, on "Tray Of Silver" he plays extremely straight,note by note. Fortunately,album is not a collection of late night smokey bar - type nostalgic ballads, there are some mid-tempo quite energetic numbers, and included ballads themselves don't sound too sticky.But being extremely safe,all music becomes quite faceless, just another tunes played by skilled but not very original band.

Hardly an interesting addition for those loving adventurous Shepp, it's still better-than-average hard bop album,not all that inspired, but well played and recorded.

RED GARLAND At the Prelude

Live album · 1959 · Hard Bop
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Matt
Granted as one gets older, hence the more music one has heard, especially if like myself you just love to hear some great music every day, it does become harder to find quality reissued albums that one has not heard at some time or another but early this year Jazz Wax records released “Red Garland At The Prelude” and what an absolute joy to hear some beautiful Bop from a trio that sounds as fresh “as a loaf of bread straight out the oven”. Why this Red album, did he not do those ones with Coltrane and other luminaries including Coleman Hawkins for Prestige? Not to mention that Quintet that Miles Davis lead. For myself perhaps it was Red was just in absolute sparkling form on the night with this album’s numbers being the jewels picked from the entire evenings recordings, or was it Rudy Van Gelder doing the actual recording? Another factor could be we do not have the usual Rhythm Section of Paul Chambers and Art Taylor or Philly Jo Jones who appeared on many of his studio Trio Recordings which seems to give this a slight different feel. The added addition of the album being, it is a beautiful Live Recording for that period in time (1959, first for this type of venue) by Rudy Van Gelder.

The Trio or Band comprise Red Garland on piano, who needs no introduction but it is the Rhythm section that is not as well known as Red’s usual above three that was mentioned, being Jimmy Rowser on bass and Specs Wright playing drums. Jimmy Rowser had originally been the house bassist at Philly’s Blue Note from 1954 to 56 and then did an approximate two year stint with Dinah Washington and then another two years with Maynard Ferguson which brings us to this point in time with Red’s trio. Specs Wright on drums had “been around the block” musically to say the least by working with so many other great musicians including Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Heath, Howard McGhee, Earl Bostic, Cannonball Adderley and also being a member In Carmen McRae’s trio. Both musicians are a joy to hear with their input throughout the recording.

The sparkle and stride seem to be coming out of Red’s piano and band as soon as the needle hits with the first composition “Let Me See” coming in with a beautiful bounce applied to this Basie, Edison, Hendricks tune. The Rhythm section feature prominently with Red’s piano hitting that stride and with the call and response used by the band throughout the composition’s input even the drum solo keeps us right on bouncing along with this wonderful opening number. “Prelude blues” follows which is one of Red’s own compositions and sure he hits hard with that percussive technique that he played with but this lovely slow Blues is full of a glorious piano technique and if one wants to hear ivories tickled this is right up your alley. One of the two Ellington compositions within the album “Just Squeeze Me” is up next and that sparkling Red piano sound is all around on this mid tempo number. “Cherokee” comes next and it is a bonus track for this reissue followed by Basie’s “One O’Clock Jump” with another bonus take of this thrown in to finish the album on the B Side. “Satin Doll” the other Ellington composition is first up on the record’s flip with “Perdido” following with more of that Ellington presence felt and both are played beautifully by the trio. The album’s ballad “There’ll Never Be Another You” is played in a mid tempo range with more of that great timing coming from the Rhythm section with Red’s piano seeming to dance right across them and is just another highlight as the rest of the numbers seem to be contained within this lovely trio recording. “Bye Bye Blackbird” is the original album closer and it sounds wonderful here from the trio with that necessary jaunt within the songs chorus and it is for me a nice stripped take of that version he did with Miles Davis from his “Round Midnight” album.

Red Garland unfortunately has been labelled a cocktail bar pianist but to us fans we know that is from people who have not bothered to take the time and concentration to listen to his many Trio recordings because sure Red had a wonderful hard hitting technique with also having that knack to always keep a string on the tune right throughout, including solos. No wonder Miles wanted him. Very Highly recommended from this old boy. Sure it ain’t Bill Evans but that is what is so nice about the difference.

CANNONBALL ADDERLEY The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco (aka Spontaneous Combustion)

Live album · 1959 · Hard Bop
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js
:”The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco” was one of Cannonball’s first albums with his new group, coming after his successful work with Miles Davis, and features some of the best recorded solos of his career. Prior to this recording, Adderley had joined with Miles to record hallmark jazz albums such as “Kind of Blue” and “Something Else”. Needless to say, his career was on fire at this time, and his new quintet did not disappoint with his brother Nat supplying high register trumpet flights and Bobby Timmons pounding out bluesy rhythms on the piano along with Sam Jones on bass and the innovative and under-rated Louis Hayes on drums.

Side one features two lengthy blues based workouts in a hard bop style that borders on soul jazz, pretty much what you could expect from Julian at this point in his career. Side two opens in a similar fashion, but then "you Got It" veers into a slightly more experimental direction foreshadowing some of the things that would soon be coming from Miles’ new quintet, and "Bohemia After Dark" is classic high speed bop. Throughout this entire album, Cannonball’s playing is on fire and features his strong devotion to Charlie Parker, particularly on the two closing cuts. In addition to the Parker influence, Adderley also shows an interest in the new style jazz/blues soloists like Stanley Turrentine. As mentioned earlier, the rest of Julian’s band is stellar, with honorable mention going to drummer Louis Hayes and his work on “You Got It”, a track that features interesting drum breaks that foreshadow much of what Tony Williams would be doing in a few years.

The recording quality of these tracks is quite good, the only slight problem being that the piano could be a bit louder at times, but its no big deal. The CD version has some bonus tracks, but the LP version that was used to write this review has that great unfiltered analog sound. This is highly recommended for fans of the Adderley Brothers and late 50s hard bop.

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