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
JOHN COLTRANE
4.76 | 48 ratings
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LEE MORGAN Search for the New Land Album Cover Search for the New Land
LEE MORGAN
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
LEE MORGAN
4.78 | 21 ratings
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LEE MORGAN Cornbread Album Cover Cornbread
LEE MORGAN
4.89 | 8 ratings
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SONNY ROLLINS Saxophone Colossus Album Cover Saxophone Colossus
SONNY ROLLINS
4.76 | 24 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE "Live" at the Village Vanguard
JOHN COLTRANE
4.89 | 8 ratings
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WAYNE SHORTER Adam's Apple Album Cover Adam's Apple
WAYNE SHORTER
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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4.83 | 10 ratings
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HORACE SILVER Horace Silver And The Jazz Messengers Album Cover Horace Silver And The Jazz Messengers
HORACE SILVER
4.98 | 5 ratings
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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy JMA!

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hard bop Music Reviews

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.

ROY HAYNES Out of the Afternoon

Album · 1962 · Hard Bop
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liontime
Out of the Afternoon is something of a hidden gem that I stumbled upon and can't recommend enough to fans of that 'driving' hard bop sound.

There's an astonishing amount of energy here stemming from Roy Haynes' quick and heavy drumming. Roland Kirk really out does himself on this record on the tenor sax (and occasional flute) with lots of forceful playing to the point of overblowing at times. Tommy Flanagan takes a few nice solos but he is frequently outshone by Kirk's intensity and drive. Haynes takes a few interesting and fun solo romps but this show was stolen by Kirk.

"Fly Me To The Moon" and "If I Should Lose You" are highlights; play this album when you need an energy boost or early on in a large get together.

MILES DAVIS Cookin' With the Miles Davis Quintet

Album · 1957 · Hard Bop
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liontime
This is one of a tetralogy of albums Miles Davis recorded over the course of two days in 1956 to fulfill a contractual obligation with Prestige. Although this would appear to be a recipe for four lukewarm albums of tedious tune churning, these four records (Relaxin, Steamin, Workin and Cookin) are truly tremendous. These two sessions are early career highlights for both Red Garland and John Coltrane who truly shine on each of these records. Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones also provide an excellent rhythm section here.

Cookin' bridges the gap between cool and hard bop organically. The album opens with Garland's gentle intro to 'My Funny Valentine' and the quintet plays a beautiful and refreshing rendition of a played out classic. Blues by Five follows in a similar fashion; maintaining a gentle, intricate mood throughout the first side. On side two, Airegin offers a rare and exciting moment in Davis' career when he returns to his bebop roots and plays a fast and dense solo very much unlike his signature cool stylings. The playing is tremendous though, and a true testament to Davis' taste and technique. This solo will also foreshadow Davis' future experimentation in the following decades. The album closes with a long, meandering track much like side one. Cookin' is necessary in the collections of any Davis, Trane or Garland fans.

KENNY BARRON Book Of Intuition

Album · 2016 · Hard Bop
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Amilisom
What an album name! A mysterious title like "Book of Intuition" didn't fail to catch my eye. The album cover is pretty cool too.

According to the linear notes, Kenny Barron has been playing with this trio for the last several years but hasn't made a studio recording with them until now. Now I personally haven't listened to Kenny Barron's other groups so my expectations were pretty open.

Regarding the lineup, one thing I struck by was the amount of intensity in the drummer Jonathan Blake. He didn't play particularly loud or in the way, but managed to add a lot of energy to Kenny Barron's playing. "Cook's Bay" has a memorable moment where Kenny plays a short lick with both hands two octaves apart, giving it a distinct samba-type sound. Blake responds to it immediately with a samba-type fill.

Most of the tunes on the album are Kenny Barron originals. The others are two Thelonious Monk tunes (Shuffle Boil, Light Blue) and a ballad by Charlie Haden (Nightfall). Although I have enjoyed Kenny Barron play Monk tunes in the past (he's quite good at imitating him), I found these to be among the weaker ones on the album. Kenny's own tunes, such as "Magic Dance," "Cook's Bay," or "Lunacy" are filled with a lot of fun harmonic colors that give this album a nice taste. "Cook's Bay" in particular is my favorite track on the album.

Kenny Barron is a fantastic soloist, but I couldn't help but feel like many of his solos had too many long lines. There comes a point in his solos when it sounds like an idea would need to end, but would keep on going like a run-on sentence. I don't want to overly critique Kenny Barron, but it makes the listening experience less accessible.

Overall, "Book of Intuition" is a fun album. Kenny Barron and his trio offer the modern jazz world a nice album that gives original sounds within a more traditional vocabulary.

ANTHONY E NELSON JR Swift to Hear, Slow to Speak

Album · 2016 · Hard Bop
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js
If you are looking for that no-nonsense hard bop sound, then you have come to the right place. On “Swift to Hear, Slow to Speak”, Anthony E. Nelson Jr and his crew of five side men deliver ten original jazz tunes played with imagination and a lot of soul. Most would categorize this in the hard bop file, but this is hard bop of the more abstract style along the lines of latter day Art Blakey, or early Herbie Hancock. The Hancock comparison is furthered by pianist Brandon McClure, whose mixture of sophisticated blues and impressionism definitely recalls the young Herbie. Nelson’s main influence would seem to be Coltrane, as his sound is reminiscent, and he is also apt to pepper his solos with Coltrane quotes, along with re-arranged quotes from others as well. Being the top soloists on board, Nelson and McClure handle the lion’s share of the solos, but some tunes allow the others a ride as well.

With three horns on board, Nelson is able to add interest to his opening melodies by arranging in a mini-big band style. Tracks like, “Never too Late”, allow the horns to engage in some contrapuntal intersecting lines, while “Blessed are Those that Mourn”, uses the horns to paint pastel colors ala Herbie’s “Speak like a Child” album. Possibly the biggest plus on here is the fact that all of this music is original, and many of the tunes measure up well against better known standards. Any musician looking for a possible ‘new standard’ on this CD should check out “I’ll be a Fool”, which sports an infectious be-bop like melody that is hard to get out of your head.

A quick glance at the song titles will tell you that Nelson is heavily influenced by his Christian faith and seeks to use his music to worship God. Anthony calls his music “gospel jazz”, and although almost all hard bop has a bit of gospel to it, the only overt gospel number on here is closing ballad, “More than Rubies”. Anyone who does not want their jazz watered down with artificial sweetener, or passing trends, will want to check out “Swift to Hear, Slow to Speak”, not only can these guys play, but they can also compose and arrange with the best of them.

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JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

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