Post Bop

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Post Bop is a modern jazz style that continues the distinguishing characteristics that separate jazz from the world of pop and rock; swing rhythm and extended harmonies (9th chords 11ths, altered chords, etc). Post Bop grew out of the Hard Bop genre during the early to mid 60s as musicians such as Bill Evans, Wayne Shorter, and Herbie Hancock began to introduce more extended harmonies, abstract structures and looser rhythms in their playing and compositions. When Hancock and Shorter joined Miles Davis’ quintet in the mid-60s, that group became the perfect vehicle for extending the boundaries of what could happen in a Post Bop format. The Miles Davis Quintet albums, "Nefertiti" and "Sorcer", continue to be the pinnacle of Post Bop composition and performance. Some styles of free modal jazz, such as Coltrane's "A Love Supreme", are also part of the Post Bop sound, but that sound has been fading since the early 70s.

While still in its infancy, Post Bop was pushed off the radar during the 70s as many of its early proponents pursued the far more lucrative fields of fusion and smooth jazz. As the fusion fad began to fade, musicians began to tire of three chord vamps and the limitations of rock/pop rhythms and yearned to work with sophisticated chord changes and jazz rhythms again. The stage was set in the early 80s for the “young lion” movement and a return to both Post Bop and Hard Bop for a lot of young musicians and their fan base.

Today’s Post Bop covers a wide variety, from radio friendly to borderline avant-garde, and it’s a genre that is still ripe for more exploration. Generally speaking, the difference between Post Bop and Hard Bop is that Hard Bop carries a stronger trace of the blues and a more straight forward driving rhythm, but when you are trying to analyze certain artists or pieces of music, that difference is not always clear. Take recent tracks by Branford Marsalis as an example, some are clearly Hard Bop, some are Post and yet others fall somewhere in between. With some music, arguing whether it is Post Bop or Hard Bop becomes pointless, since depending on perspective, either genre can be seen as a subset of the other. Although we use the genre term Post Bop to tag the music described above, in a more generic sense, post bop can be the name of any swing based jazz music created after the passing of the be-bop era.

post bop top albums

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CHARLES MINGUS The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Album Cover The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
CHARLES MINGUS
4.88 | 49 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE A Love Supreme Album Cover A Love Supreme
JOHN COLTRANE
4.86 | 67 ratings
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MCCOY TYNER Sahara Album Cover Sahara
MCCOY TYNER
4.97 | 12 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Miles Smiles Album Cover Miles Smiles
MILES DAVIS
4.80 | 30 ratings
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CHARLES MINGUS Oh Yeah Album Cover Oh Yeah
CHARLES MINGUS
4.79 | 14 ratings
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MILES DAVIS E.S.P. Album Cover E.S.P.
MILES DAVIS
4.77 | 14 ratings
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DAVE HOLLAND Extended Play: Live at Birdland Album Cover Extended Play: Live at Birdland
DAVE HOLLAND
4.87 | 7 ratings
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MCCOY TYNER Song for My Lady Album Cover Song for My Lady
MCCOY TYNER
4.95 | 5 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Nefertiti Album Cover Nefertiti
MILES DAVIS
4.68 | 26 ratings
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KEITH JARRETT At the Blue Note: The Complete Recordings Album Cover At the Blue Note: The Complete Recordings
KEITH JARRETT
5.00 | 4 ratings
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KEITH JARRETT Inside Out (with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette) Album Cover Inside Out (with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette)
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4.86 | 6 ratings
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DAVE HOLLAND Not For Nothin' Album Cover Not For Nothin'
DAVE HOLLAND
4.88 | 5 ratings
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post bop Music Reviews

ENRICO RAVA Tati

Album · 2005 · Post Bop
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Steve Wyzard
NOIRISH UNDERCURRENTS

Released in 2005, this album probably came as a surprise to many long-time listeners of Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava. Not only is there no bass player, but also no cornet, no flugelhorn, no trombones, no saxophones, and no guitars. Just trumpet, piano, and drums. Naturally, this provides for a very intimate and personal recording, and no doubt some will complain it's too slow and doesn't swing. Without being too derivative, Tati is reminiscent of the darker, after-hours tones and textures of ECM labelmate Tomasz Stanko.

Rava's glistening tone and time-honored style are heard to their best advantage on "The Man I Love" and "Golden Eyes". Those expecting innocuous background music are directed to the piercing and shrill tones of the impressionistic title track. The clouds part for the three best songs on the album, "Mirrors", "Jessica Too", and "Cornettology". All Rava originals, they feature faster tempi, fiery trumpet outbursts, excellent piano accompaniment from Stefano Bollani, and intense pounding from legendary drummer Paul Motian. Other tracks are simple dirges ("Birdsong", "Gang of 5") or improv pieces ("Fantasm", "Overboard").

The black-and-white booklet photos from the sessions help add to the late-night, noirish atmosphere. Bollani shines throughout, while Motian adds shimmering brush and cymbal work behind the horn lines. This has unobtrusively become one of my favorite Enrico Rava albums, and he deserves credit for simultaneously wandering off the beaten track while remaining true to his own individual style. At 54:47, Tati does not outstay its welcome and remains a frontrunner in all "Best Jazz Album of 2005" lists.

CHARLES MINGUS Eight Classic Albums

Boxset / Compilation · 2010 · Post Bop
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js
These Real Gone label compilations are very low priced and come in low budget no frills packaging, but despite their cheap appearance, they can contain some great music. I am familiar with two of their compilations, the Quincy Jones one, which is a thorough, expertly arranged collection of Jones’ early big band music, and this one for Charles Mingus, which is not as well considered as the Jones collection, but it is still not bad either. Basically “Charles Mingus Eight Classic Albums” is a look at the early part of Mingus’ career, and it contains some real gems, but there are also some disappointing omissions as well.

As the collection title suggests, you do get eight Mingus albums on here. Two, “The Clown” and “Pithecanthropus Erectus”, are easily available well known classics, and probably already owned by most Mingus fans. The other six are a little more obscure. Two of the albums are from a live concert that was poorly recorded, and features a band that pits Mal Waldron’s outside leaning piano work with a more straight ahead horn section. Its an interesting concert, but probably only interesting to Mingus fans. Three of the albums contain creative high quality hard/post bop and are often overlooked in the Mingus discog, but possibly the most interesting obscurity on here is “Jazzical Moods Part One”, recorded in the very early part of his career when Mingus was more of a 3rd stream composer, and a very good one at that.

You do get some interesting albums on here that are not all that common, but there are some problems. It was great they included “Jazzical Moods Part 1”, but it would have been even better if they had included “Part 2” as well. Also, when arranging the eight albums on to four CDs, they didn’t put the two halves of the same live concert on the same CD! Finally, there are other early Mingus albums they could have put on here in place of the two that are easily available. Still, if you are looking for a way to check out the early part of Charles Mingus’ career, this collection provides a very affordable way to do that.

ENRICO RAVA The Plot

Album · 1977 · Post Bop
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Steve Wyzard
LOST MASTERPIECE OF 1977

If you are reading this review and do not own this album, stop immediately, drop everything, mortgage the house, and buy it! The Plot is hard to find and now a true rarity, but it really is that good. Trumpeter Enrico Rava's other recordings, many of which are well worth hearing, simply pale in comparison. The Plot's four performers have appeared on hundreds of albums, but very few can match the virtuosity and over-the-top intensity of this one. Jon Christensen, known to most as the cool ECM house drummer, plays with a DeJohnette/Williams fire that is unbelievable. Bassist Palle Danielsson, coming off classic performances on Witchi-Tai-To and Belonging, almost impossibly reminds one of Dave Holland. Guitarist John Abercrombie plays with an outrageous brilliance that ranks among his career best. This one demands a track-by-track breakdown:

"Tribe": The opener establishes a pattern: Christensen/Danielsson/Abercrombie lay down a heavy groove before Rava enters last. With an unforgettable riff, this one should be a standard. "On the Red Side of the Street": At first, you might think this is one of the obligatory free improv numbers that appear on almost every ECM album before 1982. Then Rava plays one of the saddest, most mournful lines you will ever hear. Abercrombie and Danielsson create a magical mood and keep this from becoming a dirge. "Amici": It sounds like a missing track from the Abercrombie/Holland/DeJohnette Gateway albums, with Danielsson's playing particularly mind-blowing. Rava's trumpet cries/wails/shrieks and howls over a very busy background. "Dr.Ra and Mr.Va": Abercrombie and Rava push each other to new levels of intensity. Also features a bluesy intro and a fabulous descending note melody. Another one that should be a standard. "Foto di Famiglia": A quiet duet interlude before the epic. Abercrombie's acoustic guitar backs Rava's beautiful solo. "The Plot": A 15-minute slow intro/long jam/slow coda classic. Once the rhythm section gets going, everyone just TAKES OFF! Rava plays from sweet to sour, from fire to ice, while Abercrombie's fluid, "out there" solo reminds one of his Timeless album.

The only question that remains to be answered is: "Why is this masterpiece so hard to find?" Maybe everyone who owns it would be hard-pressed to part with their copy. If ECM can give the wild avant-garde early Jan Garbarek albums an American release, why not The Plot, which is much more accessible? All I can say is, if you love the trumpet, love amplified jazz guitar, or love the ECM sound in general, you will not be disappointed with this lost classic. And shame on ECM for not making it easier to find. Beatrize Vidal's ethereal cover design is the cherry on top!

MANU KATCHÉ Neighbourhood

Album · 2005 · Post Bop
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Steve Wyzard
Album of the Year 2005!

Surprise! This is not only one of the greatest jazz albums of the first decade of the 21st century, but also one of the most archetypal ECM albums ever made. Yes, it really is that good! But wait, the naysayers insist, it's not over-the-top intense or in-your-face. True, but Manu Katche's Neighbourhood is an exquisite, pristine example of the late-night/winter afternoon chamber jazz that has enthralled ECM listeners for 4-1/2 decades. Thought-provoking? You bet!

Trumpeter Tomasz Stanko is billed first, and he almost steals the whole album. He adds dissonances to songs such as "Lullaby" and "Lovely Walk", a "Milestones"-ish riff to "Take Off and Land", and a mournful line to the haunted impressionism of "February Sun" (a perfect ECM title). But the duets with Jan Garbarek are what really stand out, particularly on "Good Influence". Garbarek and his distinctive tones only appear on 5 tracks, but they are all among the album's best. It's easy to take the excellent pianism of Marcin Wasilewski for granted: this is the perfect medium for his work. Double-bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz provides the melody line on the trio number "November 99", and drives the uptempo "Number One". As for the "leader", Manu Katche is content not to dominate the proceedings - the closest he comes to a solo is in the center section of "Lovely Walk". Make no mistake, this is not a typical drummer-as-leader album. But listen to his cymbal work and rimshots throughout, even when it sounds like not much is happening - pure magic! Highly recommended!

JERRY KALAF Welcome to Earth

Album · 2014 · Post Bop
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js
“Welcome to Earth” is the fourth CD from drummer, arranger and composer, Jerry Kalaf, and it finds him working with three different groups that provide somewhat similar styles of music. The three different groups include two piano trios, and one sextet. The overall style of all three groups is modern post bop, with a slight ECM styled contemporary sound on the sextet. All of the songs were composed by Kalaf, and they all feature smart abstract open structures that give the soloists room to build their statements. Bill Evans is definitely an influence on here, you might also hear traces of Brad Mehldau and Keith Jarret as well.

All three of the groups featured on here are good, but possibly the most interesting is the trio led by pianist Leonard Thompson. Leonard shows the Bill Evans influence, but also a little more rhythmic approach along the lines of Herbie Hancock’s “Speak Like a Child”. The sextet features Doug Walter on sax and Barry Coates on guitar, their cool approach recalls artists such as Jan Garbarek and Jim Hall. The other trio is led by pianist Rich Ruttenberg, and their playing leans a bit towards a post bop/art pop crossover as they turn in a couple of melodic ballads.

The overall sound of “Welcome to Earth” leans toward the ‘cool’ side of things, with the Leonard Thompson trio being the most heated of the three groups. If there is one small complaint with this CD, it has to do with the volume mix. If I did not already know that this was the drummer’s CD, I would have been able to guess, because Kalaf is up just a tad too high in the mix. It’s a small matter, and I suppose if you were a fan of Kalaf’s subtle percussion work, you may want to hear every little nuance. Overall, this is a solid CD for fans of post bop, but for my money, I wouldn’t mind hearing a whole CD with just the Leonard Thompson group.

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