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

Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 60 min. caching

MILES DAVIS 'Round About Midnight (aka Miles Davis) Album Cover 'Round About Midnight (aka Miles Davis)
MILES DAVIS
4.79 | 31 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE Giant Steps Album Cover Giant Steps
JOHN COLTRANE
4.75 | 50 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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SONNY ROLLINS Saxophone Colossus Album Cover Saxophone Colossus
SONNY ROLLINS
4.76 | 25 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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JOHN COLTRANE "Live" at the Village Vanguard
JOHN COLTRANE
4.89 | 8 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
4.95 | 6 ratings
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HANK MOBLEY Workout Album Cover Workout
HANK MOBLEY
4.87 | 8 ratings
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JACKIE MCLEAN Destination... Out! Album Cover Destination... Out!
JACKIE MCLEAN
4.83 | 10 ratings
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GRANT GREEN Idle Moments Album Cover Idle Moments
GRANT GREEN
4.74 | 23 ratings
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hard bop Music Reviews

STEVE HECKMAN Legacy: A Coltrane Tribute

Live album · 2016 · Hard Bop
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js
You certainly can’t accuse Steve Heckman for aiming low when he decided to call his new CD a ‘Coltrane Tribute’, that is quite a big claim to stake, and fortunately for the listener, Heckman mostly comes through on his promise of a tribute to a jazz legend. On “Legacy: A Coltrane Tribute”, Heckman covers various parts of Coltrane’s multi-faceted career, including his harmonically complex hard bop, the modal jams, some spiritual melodies and one from Coltrane’s famous ballad album too. All through this CD Heckman displays a beautiful tone that owes much to Coltrane, but is not a mere imitation. Steve is also well supported by a trio that features pianist Grant Levin, a particularly lively player who deserves wider recognition.

This CD is a live concert, and maybe the recording process was a little intimidating because the band sounds a little shy and tentative on the opening high energy numbers. On the third track, the ballad “Its Easy to Remember”, Heckman and his band find their footing and Steve hits wonderful heights with a soulful solo on which he finally starts cutting loose. Throughout the rest of the album, it seems Heckman’s strength is the meditative numbers, such as “Dear Lord” and “Reverend King”, where his playing takes on a more unfettered nature. On the more up-tempo numbers, pianist Grant Levin’s frenetic solos help push the energy level. Grant’s scatter shot, and sometimes humorous piano playing can recall off-the-wall chance takers like Jaki Byard, or a more tonal version of Matthew Shipp.

HAMPTON HAWES All Night Session!, Volume 3

Album · 1958 · Hard Bop
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js
All Night Session 3” is the third part of a recording session by Hampton Hawes and his quartet, recorded live at Contemporary Studios in Los Angeles on November 11, 1956. Being the third and final part of a lengthy session, by the time the quartet got to this one, they were ready to relax and stretch out, and for half the album, they leave the standards alone and play some free form blues based jams. Although highly acclaimed in his youth, Hawes has become somewhat of a forgotten figure in jazz, unfortunate because he could play with the best of them, which is well documented on this excellent album. Hampton has a wide range of expressions he can draw on, sometimes intense with Bud Powell flavored torrents of high speed swinging bop runs, and other times more quirky and clever ala Ahmad Jamal or Herbie Nichols. It also helps that Hawes has guitarist Jim Hall on board, another modernist with a penchant for unexpected twists of phrase. Musically this album could be called west coast hard bop, not really cool jazz per se, but drummer Bruz Freeman’s tendency to play quietly with brushes does lend a ‘cool’ flavor.

There is a lot of great playing on here, four geniuses stretching out on the blues, but the added bonus is the 5 star recording quality. I’m not sure what people were doing right then that they are not doing right now, possibly it has something to do with digital effects or overzealous compression, but this is what acoustic jazz is supposed to sound like. At the correct volume level, it sounds like you are in the same room with them, and every single line from every musician is crystal clear. Hearing the individual lines is important because when these guys jam the blues, they are not following any standard progression, instead the four are quickly tossing around ideas about possible direction, and then quickly changing again. The rate of communication in this band is intense.

LARRY CORBAN Corban Nation

Album · 2016 · Hard Bop
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Carmel
Guitarist Larry Corban is based in New York City and a part of the ever-growing vibrant jazz scene. You can find him regularly recording and or performing with the likes of, James Weidman, Harvie S, Steve Williams, Steve Slagle, Buddy Williams, Sylvia Cuenca, Essiet Okon Essiet, Ron Affif, Omer Avital, Avishia Cohen, Ralph Peterson Jr., Roy Hargrove, Vic Juris, Oz Noy, Nir Felder, Ben Butler, Matt Beck, Jeffrey Lee Campbell, Tim Quick and Wayne Krantz. His education background includes a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies from Ithaca College, and he has studied privately with Pat Martino, Wayne Krantz, Joanne Brackeen, Jack Wilkins, Vic Jaris, David Fuze Fiuczynski, Mick Goodrick, Steve Brown, and Rick Beato.

The sum of this experience is immediately evident in his latest offering with the Aperturistic Trio, entitled Corban Nation, that kicks off with “In-Vision,” an up-tempo pentatonic burner, filled with strong rhythm changes throughout the song form. This track features guest artist Steve Slagle who takes up the soprano sax on this cut, weaving fine solo lines of precision. Pianist James Weidman is eloquent, swinging, and his in the pocket rhythm coupled with solid ideas builds a gateway to Corban’s flurry of single notes that are guaranteed to sear your soul. Harvie S keeps the group tightly cemented while creating an undercurrent of rhythm that swings with empowered passion, and a perfect partner for drummer Steve Williams slammin’ set rhythms.

“The Shape of Time,” is a groove based tune, that draws inspiration from the classic tune “Sunny,” while traversing different keys for the improvisational sections. Weidman utilizes fender Rhodes, to give it a classic groove sound. The group chomps and digs with an in the pocket feel for a solid listen. “Slow Fizz” begins with an ala Pat Metheny Beyond the Missouri Sky vibe, open and spacious while building into a loping swing with complex harmonics and a lilting ¾ time feel, at times reminiscent of a Scofield vibe from the 70s.

The offering is closed out befittingly with a standard “I Should Care,” which is treated with respect and eloquence. The quartet has a unique way of expanding upon the sound of a standard while still respecting its origins.

Overall, Corban Nation is a highly listenable offering with plenty of meat and potatoes, laced with introspective cuts to savor and enjoy. Each release builds upon the ever growing, ever maturing discography of Corban. A recommended listen!

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.

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