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.

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post bop Music Reviews

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.

NAOSUKE MIYAMOTO Step!

Album · 1973 · Post Bop
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snobb
Double bassist Naosuke Miyamoto has been already experienced jazz musician in his late 30th (played with George Kawaguchi and Sadao Watanabe among others)when he released his debut as leader in 1973. "Step!" received positive press and became one of the most popular jazz albums,released that year in Japan.This didn't change Miyamoto's musical career at all - soon he left Tokyo for life in provincial town where stayed playing jazz in local scene for decades. Last year(2014) Naosuke Miyamoto (77) participated as youngest band's member seeking Guinness World Records recognition as world's oldest jazz trio (with average age of 81).

Miyamoto's debut(and most probably the only true album as leader; the other one he released some years later exists as promo/limited edition release)has been released on Japanese one of most prestigious label Three Blind Mice(kind of Japanese ECM known by their audiophile sound)and is perfect illustration how important sound/mix quality is for any release success.

Miyamoto-led sextet(consisting of some musicians of his generation and some youngsters)plays very solid but quite safe mainstream jazz, somewhere between hard-bop and post bop. Of five album's compositions,two are less known Harold Land songs("Step Right up to the Bottom" and "A New Shade of Blue"),rest are members' originals. Miyamoto, obviously influenced by Mingus music,plays deep and rich but quite linear bass,accented on the mix as leading instrument. All sound is extremely spacious,warm and sounds as if the listener is sitting on scene between musicians. Both sax players soloing is tuneful,clear with beautiful tones as well as piano sounds. Trying to analyze all music components it becomes obvious that music and musicians all are good professional band and hardly more, but entirety is much better than each part.

Many Three Blind Mice albums have same fantastic sound, not all them sound same attractive though. Still "Step!" is a great example how virtuosic production can make one just a little better-than-average music sounding much,much better.Being a true artist and label success at the time of release, this album is still popular till now and evidences many reissues (incl. SACD audiophile versions). Good sound engineering is important part of musical art doing good music even better.

MAL WALDRON Tokyo Reverie

Album · 1970 · Post Bop
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snobb
In early 1970 American pianist,already residing in Europe for some time,on the basis of his released album has been invited to visit Japan (by local Swing Journal company). On his first ever Japanese tour Mal spent two days (February 7 & 12) in studio in Tokyo where recorded some material.

Four songs,recorded by trio with domestic double bassist and drummer were soon after released as "Tokyo Bound" album. Eight compositions,recorded solo, has been released later same year as "Tokyo Reverie". Both albums didn't attract lot of attention but opened for Mal Japanese scene. He returned for next Japanese tour already next year and very soon became well known and popular pianist on Japanese mainstream scene.

When "Tokyo Bound" has been reissued few times including CD edition (in 1990), "Tokyo Reverie"'s first issue became its last. No surprise that even many Waldron fans don't know it exists.

Speaking about music, "Tokyo Reverie" contains eight Waldron originals, mostly all up-tempo rhythmic post-bop pieces, quite unmemorable. The only exception is album's closer "Blood And Guts" which stays in Mal's repertoire for decades ahead.

On "...Reverie" Waldron plays in his almost in full adopted technique of repetitive beats and rhythm domination against virtuosity,complexity and soloing. This his formula as rule perfectly works when used with trio or bigger combo, but for piano solo album (especially on not all that strong material)its limitations are obvious.No surprise this album has bigger value for completionists than for music lovers. One still can find original Japanese vinyl in European auctions at as much price as 30 euro.

Interesting evidence of Waldron's early career in Japan,no any reasons to pay fortune though.

AARON GOLDBERG The Now

Album · 2015 · Post Bop
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Matt
Aaron Goldberg first came to my attention in the year 2000 when he was supporting Joshua Redman on his current tour throughout that period. At that time Aaron had released his first album “Turning Point” with his follow up “Unfolding” having already been recorded and coming out within a few months. With another two albums that have since followed we have finally arrived at his fifth release “The Now” with his old cohorts in music Ruben Rogers on Bass and Eric Harland drumming who have both been with him since the beginning of his recorded output and comprise what basically could be termed as Aaron’s Trio these days. Post Bop, Brazilian, Haitian, a Charlie Parker cover with Aaron’s original compositions bring a wonderful diversity to the albums make up and content with plenty for the Trio to work around with a mix of tempos and melodies.

Aaron choose the Chico Buarque composition, “Trocando Em Miudos” for the album’s opening comprising a beautiful relaxed take with the number and less relaxation of course if you are Aaron who brings this up within his solo with that gradual increase in notes and speed to almost the highest point but that old Jazz art of landing back on that tunes theme is right there. We are heading to Haiti with the next “Yoyo” with Ruben and Eric opening the number with the rhythm and Aaron’s piano providing some wonderful input and lead over this lively number. Kudos must go the rhythm section of Ruben and Eric with both keeping the rhythm of the composition’s Haitian feel at the beginning and end when so often in other Jazz recordings the compositions can become lost of their original sound. The ballad, “The Wind In The Night” follows with plenty of space provided between each piano key and with the exquisite backing from Ruben and Eric you might be excused if one walked in to hear, “Bill Evans”? The diversity keeps coming throughout the ten album tracks with the short modern composition of Aaron’s named “E-Land”. That Charlie Parker sprite appears instantly with “Perhaps” and the lovely Brazilian ballad , “Triste Baia da Guanabara” follows. “Background Music” by Wayne Marsh must have originated from a very fast world with its great up tempo timing. “One’s A Crowd” as the notes’ state “Even when you’re alone you’re not. What is this you anyway”? with the band all having an input for solos within this contradictory set up at time within Aaron’s composition. The dedicated “One Life” closes the album with Kurt Rosenwinkel guesting on guitar and one could be excused if mistaken for a flute with the stunning sound he produces. The composition is dedicated to a married couple that Aaron met who had lost their teenage daughter, let’s hope that a small amount of relief is brought to them.

Gets better with every time I hear this and that old phrase that I have used so often applies, “something new to hear with each play” . Highly recommended new release. If you are interested Aaron signed the cover of Joshua Redman’s “Beyond” album on the 2/28/00 which he dated luckily for me on that wonderful evening of Jazz at the now defunct “Continental Club” in Melbourne Australia. Also got Ruben Roger’s whilst he was there.

TAKEO MORIYAMA Bit (with Mal Waldron)

Live album · 1995 · Post Bop
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snobb
Drummer Takeo Moriyama came just a little bit late to be a part of Japanese free-jazz revolution in late 60s, but this fact probably influenced his all future career in music. Started as Yosuke Yamashita Trio's drummer in mid 70's, he played with some known Japanese and European avant-garde jazz artists (including German sax players Manfred Schoof and Peter Brotzmann)but never attracted much attention as leader. Even more, for bad or for good differently from all generation of Japanese advanced jazz musicians who made their names in 1969, his playing being quite free has been always bop-influenced. As a result, it looks his music just got stuck somewhere in between of mainstream jazz and avant-garde, never becoming part of one or the other.

Here on "Bit" he recorded one of his stronger session - as duo with great pianist Mal Waldron. By it's structure "Bit" recalls Waldron's very successful late 80s series released on Italian Soul Note label where each album (studio or live) as rule contains two or three longish advanced post-bop compositions only, each over 20 minutes long. Here, this time in mid 90s,it looks Maldron tries to repeat this formula, with partial success only though.

So,"Bit"(an album,recorded live in studio)contains two compositions only, with "Laud Suite" as opener,lasting longer than 48 minutes! And there is nothing about noodling,endless free improvs - no way."Suite..." is tuneful and well framed and structured composition quite similar to Waldron music from previous decade. Since this song is credited to both Moriyama and Waldron and it doesn't exist nowhere else on Waldron recordings, it looks that it have been written specially for this session. From very first sounds one has no doubt that here's Waldron playing his music - his style is easy recognizable. At the same time during all these minutes you can feel like listening to Mal playing medley of his old tunes: almost every catchy tune is already heard somewhere before.

Structurally "Suite..." is constructed as collection Waldron's soulful piano parts and Moriyama's groovy drums solo parts changing each other on very balanced manner. Takeo's drumming is a bit too heavyweight for Mal's dark and quite lyrical piano and in moments he sounds as gracious as dancing bear in the glass room. Still,deeply rooted in hard-bop, he doesn't sound out of place here.

Second and final album's composition is Waldron standard "Left Alone". Just seven minutes and less quirky structure - this composition sounds as typical Mal top song (with Takeo landed to just supporting drummer's chair). Less adventurous at the same time "Left Alone" placed everything on their right places.In reality very much an album of Mal Waldron,this release is one good album for his fans. Far not his best it still contains lot of elements Mal music is known and loved.

P.S. A year after same label, Tokuma,will release rest of the same session's material as next duo album "Dual" (seven shorter compositions this time)

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