Post Bop

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Part I

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 pinnacles 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. Although there are still some musicians, such as Kenny Garret, who play in that style, mostly 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. Much of Branford Marsalis's music is a good example of jazz that sits right between post and hard bop. 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.

Part 2 - Post Bop in the New Century

As jazz continues to grow and develop, the worlds of modern fusion and post bop have grown closer together as many musicians; such as Dave Douglas, Craig Taborn, Greg Osby and others, freely mix elements into new hybrids.

At JMA, the distinction between Fusion and Post Bop continues to be that distinctive African syncopation known as "swing". Generally Post Bop should swing, while Fusion, quite often does not. What has changed, as we move further into the 21st century, is the way in which modern drummers are 'swinging'. Inventive drummers such as Jeff "Tain" Watts, Rudy Roystan and others are no longer putting the swing beat solely on the ride cymbal. Instead, they are liable to use any, or all pieces of the drum set at once, while they swing the beat. Also, the swing feel itself is often a bit disguised in modern jazz, it may not be so obvious, and the drummer may move in and out of swing feel, sometimes even within one phrase.

post bop top albums

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JOHN COLTRANE A Love Supreme Album Cover A Love Supreme
JOHN COLTRANE
4.79 | 84 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK Empyrean Isles Album Cover Empyrean Isles
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4.76 | 21 ratings
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GARY BURTON Gary Burton / Chick Corea ‎: Crystal Silence Album Cover Gary Burton / Chick Corea ‎: Crystal Silence
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4.88 | 7 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK V.S.O.P. Album Cover V.S.O.P.
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MCCOY TYNER Sahara Album Cover Sahara
MCCOY TYNER
4.73 | 16 ratings
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MCCOY TYNER The Real McCoy Album Cover The Real McCoy
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4.70 | 21 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Miles Davis Quintet : Miles Smiles Album Cover Miles Davis Quintet : Miles Smiles
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MCCOY TYNER Song for My Lady Album Cover Song for My Lady
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TOMASZ STAŃKO Tomasz Stanko New York Quartet : Wisława Album Cover Tomasz Stanko New York Quartet : Wisława
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post bop Music Reviews

KENNY WHEELER Double, Double You

Album · 1984 · Post Bop
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Steve Wyzard
MASTERPIECE BLOWING SESSION

Don't expect an impartial review here: my enthusiasm for Double Double You knows no bounds. If I were making an "all-time top 20 jazz albums" list, three would come from the year 1984: Jean-Luc Ponty's Open Mind, Steps Ahead's Modern Times, and this album. Yet it's really Double Double You that has languished in undeserved obscurity for far too long and has only just recently been re-issued so everybody could finally hear it. Not only is this Kenny Wheeler's best album EVER, it's also among the best albums ECM released during the entire decade.

The line-up of musicians alone should tell you this will be a blowing session for the ages: Kenny Wheeler, trumpet & flugelhorn, Mike Brecker, tenor saxophone, John Taylor, piano, Dave Holland, bass, and Jack DeJohnette, drums. Yes, there is absolutely unbridled, ferocious soloing throughout by all the performers, without anyone dominating the proceedings. Some of Kenny Wheeler's recordings can best be described as avant-garde, but Double Double You emphatically leans toward the accessible end of the spectrum.

The unforgettable "Foxy Trot" (14:07) is carried by one of Dave Holland's greatest basslines, and is one of those compositions that everyone should know and cover. There is a brief respite from the intensity with "Ma Bel" (3:50), a duet between Wheeler and Taylor. "W.W." (7:48) is a showcase for the horns, and the side-long suite "Three for D'reen/Blue for Lou/Mark Time" (23:28) goes through a multitude of moods, and gives everyone a chance to stretch out without endless repetitions. And please ignore the famous Leonard Feather review that complained about DeJohnette's extended solo at the end: this is one of Jack's greatest moments EVER.

Let it be said right here that if you are familiar with any of the performers, you simply MUST add this recording to your collection immediately. Thank God this flawless album is now much more widely available, and if you love this art form, you really should give it a listen. Immaculate ECM recording, as always. I have no idea if these five were able to play this material in a live setting, but if they did, I have no doubt those in attendance must have been floored!

ERNEST TURNER My Americana

Album · 2019 · Post Bop
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js
Ernest Turner has been working with some top names in jazz and pop for over 20 years, but he did not record as a leader until he put out “My Americana” this year. In many ways it has been worth the wait as this is not the work of a newbie, instead, “Americana” presents the well developed artistry of someone who has had plenty of time to formulate their approach to the piano trio. The CD’s title is reference to the fact that Turner is presenting his idea of a ‘great American songbook’ from an African-American perspective, hence the inclusion of tunes by Stevie Wonder, and Thelonious Monk, as well as a couple of well known gospel songs. The variety in the choice of songs is also reflected in Turner’s eclectic approach to the piano where his playing can range from cutting edge current to old school funky and down home soulful.

The album opens on that cutting edge tip with the turbulent intensity of “Return of Thanos”, a Turner original that carries one of the hottest piano solos you will hear this year. This, along with the other two Turner originals are probably the highlights of the album, the covers are all great, but Turner turns in his best solos on his self-penned numbers. Of the covers, Wonder’s “If It’s Magic” takes on a Brad Mehldau type air as Turner plays a hypnotic art pop vamp topped with an elastic solo that slips in and out of time. Fats Waller’s “Aint Misbehain” is barely recognizable as it has been altered and modernized to the extreme, I didn’t even know that was the tune I just heard until I saw the track list. Gospel music is something that cannot be faked, either you grew up in the church playing it, or it will be obvious you didn’t. Turner’s rendition of “Precious Lord” is drenched in all of those classic church rhythms and phrases, you can almost see the older women with their fans working back and forth.

There are so many great pianists these days, but Ernest Turner is ready to take his place along side the best of them. Much in the way of Jason Moran or Herbie Hancock, Ernest can play as technical and complicated as anyone, but he can also reach deep into the blues and play something that is just plain fun. His solos are never dull and I find myself wishing they would go on longer. I should also mention that Jon Curry on drums and Lance Scott on bass comprise a killer rhythm section and their well placed solo spots add to the overall arrangements.

ERIC DOLPHY Iron Man

Album · 1968 · Post Bop
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js
Although it was not released until 1968, the tracks for Eric Dolphy’s “Iron Man” were recorded in 1963 at the same sessions that produced the album “Conversations”. This all went down about one year before Dolphy released his art jazz masterpiece, “Out to Lunch”, so needless to say, the material on “Iron Man” is outstanding and a must have for any Dolphy fan. Although Eric and Sun Ra are both well known leaders in the world of avant-garde jazz, you do not normally hear much similarities in their music, except on this CD on which Dolphy is working with a mini big band ensemble that often carries a very Ra like sound in its arrangements and orchestrations.

“Iron Man” opens with two high energy bebop numbers that show Dolphy taking the musical innovations of Charlie Parker just one step further. Both of these tracks are sheer joy and feature great solos from Eric, Woody Shaw and Bobby Hutcherson. The large horn ensemble on these two returns on “Burning Spear”, for an ambitious arrangement that sounds like some of today’s cutting edge jazz. Two other tracks feature Dolphy in ballad duets with bassist Richard Davis. These two songs are played a bit more straight ahead, but with no lack of melodic invention and creativity.

Some versions of “Iron Man” carry a bonus track called “A Personal Statement”. This one features Eric in duet with an opera singer and a small combo performing a bizarre waltz and some other strange stuff that would be hard to describe. This track displays Dolphy’s interest in the avant-garde concert hall music of his time. There is a piano player on this one that carries a strong Sun Ra influence, and surprise surprise, its Bob James, who would later go on to become one of the most successful money making pop jazz artists ever.

BRANFORD MARSALIS Branford Marsalis Quartet : The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul

Album · 2019 · Post Bop
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js
For those who like their jazz on the more heated side of things, Branford Marsalis’ “The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul” should fit the bill. Its been said by more than a few that Branford’s studio recordings are no match for the fire of his live performances, and that may still be true, but this new one is probably the one studio recording that gets the closest to his live intensity, and likewise, this is also one of the better recordings in Branford’s lengthy career. Not everything on “Secret” is high energy, there is a variety of styles at work here, but it’s the ones on which Marsalis cuts loose that really mark this album as something special.

Opener “Dance of the Evil Toys” sets a modernist tone with its blend of a loping African rhythm, Stravinsky like snaky melody and harsh piano smashes. They throw a change up by introducing the ballad, “Conversation Among the Ruins”, as the second number, but it is a remarkable composition, something worthy of inclusion in future standard collections. The rest of the album is made up of a variety of 21st century post bop meets 60s free jazz with Branford and pianist Joey Calderazzo knocking out one high intensity solo after another. This all culminates with album closer, Keith Jarret’s “The Windup”, whose wacked out punky be-bop melody and arrangement sounds like something from today’s NYC scene, not the 70s when Keith wrote it. If there is one track that doesn’t quite fit, it’s the laid back Latin groove of “Cianna”, whose somewhat restrained solos don’t fit the energy and creativity of the rest of the album. Maybe that one is supposed to be the radio friendly song.

CHICK COREA Chick Corea, Christian McBride & Brian Blade : Trilogy 2

Live album · 2018 · Post Bop
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snobb
Same way as five years ago, with first snow Chick Corea acoustic trio's live recordings collection from world tour comes again this early winter. Titled "Trilogy 2" it is obvious continuation of their successful 2013 Japanese release (in 2014 released in Europe and US as well). Complied from 2010-2016 concerts, this time it is a double CD (previous one was a triple) and comes from Japan again. Most probably next year will offer more accessible Western editions as well.

Working formula didn't change a lot - with opener "How Deep Is The Ocean" (the only song presented on both first and second "Trilogies") with Corea's Latin/Fusion hits "500 Miles High" and "La Fiesta", his early success "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs" and few standards.

As in case with first "Trilogy", biggest interest here is a new interpretations of known songs. Started with very relaxed and even unusually for him slightly sentimental manner, Chick after few first songs returns back to more dynamic enthusiastic grooving post-bop - music he plays best starting from mid 70s.

Despite of obviously entertaining character of presented material, trio of highest class professionals never sound repetitive or boring, mostly because of unexpected takes on well known material. It's really impressive to hear how different from popular versions many songs sound without leaving mainstream/chamber jazz frames.

Great X-mas present for pianist fans.

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