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)
MILES DAVIS
4.79 | 30 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE Giant Steps Album Cover Giant Steps
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4.76 | 49 ratings
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LEE MORGAN Search for the New Land Album Cover Search for the New Land
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4.84 | 13 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE Live at Birdland Album Cover Live at Birdland
JOHN COLTRANE
4.88 | 10 ratings
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LEE MORGAN The Sidewinder Album Cover The Sidewinder
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4.78 | 21 ratings
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SONNY ROLLINS Saxophone Colossus Album Cover Saxophone Colossus
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4.76 | 24 ratings
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LEE MORGAN Cornbread Album Cover Cornbread
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4.89 | 8 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE "Live" at the Village Vanguard
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4.89 | 8 ratings
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WAYNE SHORTER Adam's Apple Album Cover Adam's Apple
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4.80 | 14 ratings
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4.87 | 8 ratings
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JACKIE MCLEAN Destination... Out! Album Cover Destination... Out!
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HORACE SILVER Horace Silver And The Jazz Messengers Album Cover Horace Silver And The Jazz Messengers
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ARCHIE SHEPP Archie Shepp / Michel Marre Quintet ‎: You're My Thrill (aka Passion)

Album · 1986 · Hard Bop
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snobb
In mid 80s one of free jazz cult figures American tenor Archie Shepp returns to his early r'n'b roots again and again. Usually combined with vocals and bluesy hard-bop numbers, Shepp's albums from that period are often a mixed bag, but for followers contain lot of interesting moments.

One of better known albums of such kind is his "Down Home New York", recorded in States and released on renown Italian Soul Note label in 1984. "You're My Thrill"(reissued later on CD as "Passion" with two bonus tracks) was recorded in France and released on tiny domestic Vent Du Sud label. Both vinyl and CD (reissued in 1990)versions are real obscurities.

From very first album sounds it becomes obvious that Shepp (or label) obviously tries to re-vitalize "Down Home NY.."'s successful formula. At the very same way, "You're My Thrill" opens with 10+ minute long catchy r'n'b number of the same way (actually, it is same song as "Dow Home.."'s opener, just titled here as "Passion" and completed with slightly different lyrics)

Then (strictly according to previous album formula again) we have series of hard hard bop ballads with a few freer reeds solos and some of vocals.In contrast to Soul Note release where Shepp plays with team of renown Americans (incl. Kenny Werner on piano and Saheb Sarbib on bass among others), on "You're My Thrill" we hear mostly domestic European band. Weirdest collaborator is German keyboardist Siegfred Kessler using solely analog synths with extremely non-jazzy plasticky effervescent sound.

Supporting band's leader trumpeter/tuba player Michel Marre demonstrates few solos, not on the level of Shepp's better collaborators' though.CD version's two bonuses are more lively compositions, contain more inspired (and a bit freer) playing but can hardly save all album.

Obscure and hardly attractive for casual listener, this album still contains its two or three attractive moments for Shepp's fan or collector.

MATTHEW KAMINSKI Live at Churchill Grounds

Live album · 2016 · Hard Bop
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js
Matthew Kaminski is a jazz organist with an interesting ‘day job’, he plays the stadium organ for the Atlanta Braves, supplying all the well known baseball ballpark clichés that are as a much a part of the game’s tradition as the seventh inning stretch. On his new album, “Live at Churchill Grounds”, Matthew and his quartet play the music they are known for playing at jazz clubs, funky soul-jazz and swingin hard bop grooves. Kaminski displays the sort of Jimmy Smith/Groove Holmes type riffs we expect from a soul-jazz B3 player, but he also shows some influence from Hammond based jazz rockers like Tom Coster and Brian Auger. Matthew is a great soloist, but he is almost upstaged by the fiery tenor work of Will Scruggs, a great blues based player in the Stanley Turrentine and Grover Washington tradition. They are also joined by vocalist Kimberly Gordon for about half the set.

This CD opens strong with a lengthy jam on the Beach Boy’s “Sail on Sailor”, which is followed by their top track, a James Brown influenced up-tempo funk number called “Hot Dog”. “Midnight Special” follows with another blues groove, and then its time for Kimberly to join the band for the next six tracks. Kimberly is a remarkable singer with a strong personality, Kurt Elling calls her “the ultimate swing lovers singer”, but the music definitely changes when she joins the band. With Gordon in front of the quartet, the high energy funkiness is replaced with a more easy going swing feel, which is a more suitable backing for her vocals. The solos from the instrumentalists are also much briefer during the vocal numbers. After Kimberly’s six numbers, the band closes with a Jack McDuff classic, “A Real Goodun”.

In many ways, the instrumental and vocal tracks on here almost seem like two different bands. If you are looking for the one-two punch of Kaminski’s B3 and Kimberly’s vocals, then you have come to the right place, but if you want to hear only Matthew’s B3 chops, then you might want to check out one of his earlier studio albums. On an interesting side note, Kaminski also has an album out where he plays popular baseball stadium clichés on a ballpark Hammond, a great album for people looking for classic samples in that tradition.

CHARLES MINGUS Jazz Portraits (aka Wonderland aka Jazz Portraits. Mingus In Wonderland)

Live album · 1959 · Hard Bop
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frankbernardi22
A "classical" jazz record. Even if I should know nothing of that thing called jazz music, I'm sure the right world for all that should be "classical'. Where the adjective don't mean lifeless or frozen or totally and blindly rooted in the past. There is nothing dead in Mingus' "Wonderland" - and that is only one of the names of the record. At the same time covers are different. Very similar the first two, but the third, with a portrait of the Boss with a strange, little bit devilish face? A way to sell more copies? It's with the first graphic solution - we are in 1959 (the famous "Pithecanthropus" was released 3 years before) - that things in the grooves are better explained: Mingus, the pipe, the bass and oil on canvas. We are in an art gallery (Nonagon, NYC): there the record was captured (A. Douglas producer) and the dimension is perfect for 5 players living in the name of love and music, or so it seems. Ervin, Handy, Wyands, Mingus, Richmond. The last one, on drums, has something mildly extravagant and audacious, a mix of Williams and Jones; tenor Ervin and alto Handy seem naturally munificent, while Wyands on piano is a discreet and good friend. In front of the combo, cool and collected comments and handclaps egde the session, while Mingus, placed on right - centre gives musical orders to his men. Go and buy if you hate strange surprises, go the same if you are an intelligent son of nostalgia, and if you want to listen to the spectacular technicolored play of "No private income blues": bass'n'drums melted together to form a perfect wall of sound. Soul, technique, pleasure: it's all timeless, it's surely classic at its peak while sure footed innovation lies in the bends.

MUSIC SOUP Cut to the Chase

Album · 2016 · Hard Bop
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js
You don’t hear a lot about jazz music from Greece, which is a shame, as they apparently have a very happening scene there. Music Soup may help heighten awareness of Greek expertise in the jazz world with their new CD, “Cut to the Chase”, which features a self-proclaimed ‘eclectic’ approach that covers hard bop, RnB, fusion and more. Music Soup is essentially B3 organist Evgenia Karlafti and guitarist Nestor Dimopoulos, with Vagelis Kotzabasis taking the drum chair for most of this outing. A couple tracks on “Cut to the Chase” also feature a small horn section. Both Evgenia and Nestor are virtuoso performers. Evgenia sometimes has the expected bluesy soul jazz sound often associated with the B3, but she often takes on the more abstract post bop sounds of Larry Young, and even some European jazz-rock along the lines of Dave Stewart. Nestor reveals that he is a fan of Wes Montgomery, Pat Methanay and others, but often his mix of abstract harmonies and rhythmic blues may have you thinking John Schofield.

“Cut to the Chase” opens strong with the title cut that mixes driving post bop with Greek influenced odd-metered fusion. This is an excellent direction for the band to pursue, and they return to a similar sound on “Senior Citizen” and “A New Start”. Other instrumental cuts include the bluesy groove of “Movin” and the Bossa-Nova flavor of “Skywalk”. The remaining four tracks feature Evgenia’s vocals on songs that range from ballads to dance oriented RnB. Evgenia is a great singer, and the vocal numbers probably add a lot of interest and variety during live shows, but for the home listening experience, I think a lot of B3 fans would rather hear more numbers like the opener. Overall “Cut to the Chase” makes for a great introduction for Music Soup, and the flow of the tracks is very much like a live show.

10000 VARIOUS ARTISTS Blue Note's Three Decades Of Jazz - Volume 1 - 1959 - 1969 (aka A Decade Of Jazz Volume Three (1959-1969))

Boxset / Compilation · 1969 · Hard Bop
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js
(This review is dedicated to Bobby Hutcherson, whose brilliant vibraphone playing on this record helps propel Eric Dolphy’s “Out to Lunch”) If you like to frequent places where used vinyl is sold, then you are likely to run into these Blue Note collections that came out in the late 60s and re-issued in the mid-70s. If you see the collection featured in this review, this one that features tracks from 1959 to 1969, then you will want to pick this one up because it is a treasure trove of classic 60s jazz cuts. First you get a heaping helping of funky hard bop soul jazz, including masterpieces of the genre such as Lee Morgan’s “Sidewinder”, Horace Silver’s “Song for my Father”, Jimmy Smith’s “Back at the Chicken Shack” and Kenny Burrell’s “Chitlins Con Carne”. As if that wasn’t enough, Blue Note tops off all that soul with the always interesting outside work of Eric Dolphy’s “Out to Lunch” and Ornette Coleman’s “European Echoes”, plus the exotic sounds of Donald Byrd’s “Christo Redenter”. Almost every cut on here is a genre defining pillar that continues to be important and enjoyable to this day. Possibly the only track that might not belong is Ike Quebec’s almost maudlin “Blue and Sentimental”, but it too is saved by Grant Green’s jaggedy guitar work.

I would imagine there were some at Blue Note who might have wanted to separate the more experimental fare from the other tracks, but fortunately they didn’t do that. Instead, everything is lumped together which gives the album a much more interesting flow as abstract pieces segue way into blues and back again. If you have been into jazz for very long at all, then you probably already recognize at least three or four of these tracks. Since re-issues of this album can be found at a low price, pick it up, this is an excellent overview of 60s jazz, albeit with an accent on soul jazz/hard bop, but with enough other stuff thrown in to keep things interesting and lively.

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