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
4.83 | 98 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK V.S.O.P.:Tempest in the Colosseum Album Cover V.S.O.P.:Tempest in the Colosseum
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.97 | 8 ratings
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MCCOY TYNER Sahara Album Cover Sahara
MCCOY TYNER
4.72 | 21 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK Empyrean Isles Album Cover Empyrean Isles
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.64 | 28 ratings
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MCCOY TYNER Song for My Lady Album Cover Song for My Lady
MCCOY TYNER
4.74 | 10 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
4.75 | 8 ratings
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WAYNE SHORTER The Collector (aka Etcetera) Album Cover The Collector (aka Etcetera)
WAYNE SHORTER
4.72 | 9 ratings
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GARY BURTON Gary Burton / Chick Corea ‎: Crystal Silence Album Cover Gary Burton / Chick Corea ‎: Crystal Silence
GARY BURTON
4.68 | 10 ratings
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KENNY WHEELER Double, Double You Album Cover Double, Double You
KENNY WHEELER
4.72 | 7 ratings
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CHRIS POTTER The Sirens Album Cover The Sirens
CHRIS POTTER
4.79 | 5 ratings
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MANU KATCHÉ Neighbourhood Album Cover Neighbourhood
MANU KATCHÉ
4.85 | 4 ratings
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MILES DAVIS Nefertiti Album Cover Nefertiti
MILES DAVIS
4.54 | 40 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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post bop Music Reviews

ROY HARGROVE Roy Hargrove/Christian McBride/Stephen Scott Trio : Parker's Mood

Album · 1995 · Post Bop
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Steve Wyzard
DRUMMERLESS YET TIMELESS

This trio album was first announced to the world in the September 1995 issue of DownBeat, in a cover story with Roy Hargrove and Kenny Garrett. Naturally, it was one of those "young lions of jazz" stories that mentioned Parker's Mood would be released to celebrate Charlie Parker's 75th birthday. While the three performers (Hargrove, trumpet, Christian McBride, bass, and Stephen Scott, piano) would all move on quickly to other projects, and while there is a multitude of Bird tribute albums out there, this one is different and deserves to be heard again and again.

First, look at the track listing. While many people have covered "Yardbird Suite", "Parker's Mood", "Steeplechase", and even "Dewey Square" (I'm thinking of you, Mr. Redman) over the years, these three really dug deep into the Parker catalog for material. Heard any versions of "Laird Baird" recently? How about "Cardboard" or "Bongo Beep"? The opener "Klactoveedsedsteen" is an almost unknown masterpiece of bebop writing that, were there any sensitivity toward such things in the world today, this recording would have restored to rightful prominence. (Of course, the song's title alone has probably scared off most of the potential audience.) For those who want to investigate further, the CD booklet lists the original Parker recordings with dates and record labels.

Then there's the performances. Did I tell you these guys are awe-inspiring? Of the 16 tracks, 10 include the whole trio, including a speedy version of "Marmaduke", a poignant "Laura", a driven "Dexterity", and the Latin swing of "Repetition". The three duets are "Yardbird Suite" for trumpet and piano, "Laird Baird" for piano and bass (McBride's playing is unreal here), and "Chasin' the Bird" for trumpet and bass. And of course, everyone receives a solo spotlight: Hargrove on "Dewey Square", a blistering "Red Cross" by McBride, and Scott's freeish read of "April in Paris". The trio's closing "Star Eyes" will remain in your mind long after it's over.

The players address the challenges associated with playing these songs without a drummer in the liner notes, and the end results exceed everyone's expectations. That's to say nothing about not including an alto sax, but the compositions prove to be durable enough to handle these unique arrangements, which of course is the biggest tribute of all. The total program lasts 64:37, but flies by in seemingly 1/10th of that time. In spite of the seriousness of purpose, a good time was clearly had by all. Parker's Mood is highly recommended to both Bird acolytes as well as those who have not yet heard how powerful and far ahead of their time these compositions are.

MATT GORDY Be With Me

Album · 2022 · Post Bop
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js
Some jazz albums impress us with their extreme heat and energy, while there are others that go a different route and impress with how carefully everything is placed and just how ‘right’ the album sounds. Miles’ “Birth of the Cool” and Herbie’s “Speak Like a Child” are two albums that come to mind where everything just seems to fit and nothing extra is needed. Matt Gordy’s new album, “Be With Me” is another one of those albums where the players practice good taste and interplay and present music that hits a perfect balance. “Be With Me” also bears a resemblance to the other two albums in that it features a three piece horn section that adds colors to arrangements, much like a miniature big band. Matt is a drummer, but he also has classical level skills on the piano which he uses in arranging his tunes. Gordy is an in demand session drummer on the west coast so he rarely records as a leader, in fact this is his first album as a leader in over 20 years.

One of the best cuts happens at the very beginning as the band digs into the bebop of “Topsy”. This number is from the Count Basie songbook and its slinky noire chord changes recall the whole Basie/Ellington era, only played with a modern sensibility. There are more tracks on here that carry that minor key classic urban jazz-noire vibe, one of the best is the band’s excellent arrangement of Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eyes”, which references and quotes from the McCoy Tyner version of this well known song. Another top track is the Gordy original, “Camouflage”, which has pianist Alan Pasqua spinning an interesting and economical solo while backed by the horn arrangements. Once again, I am reminded of the aforementioned Herbie Hancock album. All of the soloists on here are excellent, but I think its Pasqua who really gets the flavor of this album and never gives into needless flash or histrionics. Two tracks feature vocalist Sherry Williams, who does a great job on "Sunny" and the original, "Be With Me". This is a great album for jazz fans, but because of its careful focus, it is also one of those albums that could appeal to those who don’t normally dig the jazz scene.

RON CARTER Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette & Gonzalo Rubalcaba : Skyline

Album · 2021 · Post Bop
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snobb
Super-trio album, "Skyline", reunites Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba with his American mentors - drummer Jack DeJohnette and acoustic bassist Ron Carter. Rubalcaba played with them in the late 90s, when he arrived to Miami from the Dominican Republic.

On "Skyline", all three musicians offer some of their previously played tunes. So, this album is more about collaboration and emotional colors than about really a new thing. The opener, "Lágrimas Negras"(traditional Cuban "Black Tears" from 20th) played as a bolero is an absolute winner. "Novia Mia" is another Cuban classic, dreamy and melancholic.

Still, the main album's flow is mainstream jazz, with swinging rhythm section and lots of groove. Ron Carter adds his "Gypsy" (originally released in 1979 on his album with Chick Corea) and “A Quiet Place” from his 1978 album, "A Song for You", (Jack DeJohnette played on the original version as well). DeJohnette offers “Silver Hollow”, originally recorded with his fusion project New Directions in 1978, and “Ahmad the Terrible” - his dedication to Ahmad Jamal. Rubalcaba's addition is “Promenade”, from his late 90s album, and “Siempre Maria” - another Cuban rhythm scented song, originally released by him in 1992. The album's closer, "RonJackRuba", is a bluesy improv, which was born right in the recording studio.

During the decades of the genre's existence, acoustic trio post bop experienced many ups and downs, and nowadays it is far not so noticeable and dominating as it was in late 60s or early 70s. Quite often new generations of jazz fans are more familiar with once widely influential fusion or more modern jazz sounds of the late 90s and New Millennium. Still it's post bop which is saving the jazz tradition till now, and sometimes it is undeservedly forgotten. "Skyline" is an album made by the genre's masters, reminding us how great this music can sound again.

MIROSLAV VITOUS Universal Syncopations

Album · 2003 · Post Bop
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Steve Wyzard
NOT WHAT YOU WANTED

Let me begin by saying this is a very good album and worthy addition to your Miroslav Vitous collection. That being said, it also needs to immediately follow that this is NOT an early-1970s throwback album. Fusion fans must have foamed at the mouth when this was originally released and they scanned the line-up of musicians. So what do we actually have here?

Only 2 of the 5 names appearing on the front cover play on all 9 tracks: Miroslav Vitous (bass), and Jack DeJohnette (drums). Both of their performances throughout are outstanding, with "Medium" being a viciously driving duet. John McLaughlin, in only his second appearance on the ECM label, appears on only 2 tracks: "Univoyage" and "Faith Run". His understated contribution to the latter is much more substantial than that on the former, and on both songs, he only plays acoustic guitar. Chick Corea (piano) performs on 3 tracks: "Univoyage", "Sun Flower", and "Miro Bop". Jan Garbarek (tenor sax) plays on 7 of the 9 tracks (with 2 co-composing credits), making this album much closer to a trio album with special guests than a quintet album. "Bamboo Forest", "Beethoven", and "Brazil Waves" feature only the trio. The 5 players, in fact, only appear together on "Univoyage".

The most controversial aspect of this album is the inclusion of a brass trio (trumpet/flugelhorn/trombone) on "Univoyage", "Tramp Blues", and "Faith Run". This ensemble adds light background touches and sound effects here and there, and a punctuation phrase every now and then. These contributions don't ruin the album or overly clutter the sound, but one wonders why they are there at all.

So if you were looking for a 21st Century Mahavishnu, composed and recorded 30 years after their glory days, you've come to the wrong place. Universal Syncopations is one of those albums that will always live in the shadow of what it could have been, and what listeners may have been expecting from these players. Which is a shame, because it's still a very good Miroslav Vitous album, in spite of who is and isn't playing.

LARRY YOUNG Mothership

Album · 1980 · Post Bop
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Steve Wyzard
TAKE A TRIP

"One thing about Larry Young is that he really is an organist. He knows that instrument, and furthermore, unlike some organ players in jazz, Larry never gets in your way. On the contrary, he keeps building in and around what you are doing while always listening so that his comping is always a great help." Mother Ship is a miraculous album, and due to its posthumous release has been continually underrated and underplayed. The above quote, from Grant Green (who does not play on Mother Ship) comes from this album's liner notes, which also take pains to portray Young as a Coltrane acolyte. That might be overselling the issue just a bit, but when you hear this album, you'll understand how the connection has been made.

Of course, the real problem with Mother Ship's reputation is that it will always live in the shadow of Young's Unity album, which the all-powerful consensus has determined is Larry's greatest. It's a real temptation to compare the two albums due to their common instrumentation: organ / trumpet / tenor sax / drums. Yet on Mother Ship, Lee Morgan's trumpet performance is much freer than anything else you've heard him play. Tenorist Herbert Morgan (no relation) and drummer Eddie Gladden are both compatriots of Young's from the Newark, NJ area. While far lesser-known than the legends who performed on Unity, both play up a storm on this album.

While a number of Blue Note's "LT-series" records are almost compilations of "odds and ends" from various sessions, Mother Ship is a full 41-minute album recorded in one day in 1969. The ground-breaking "Mother Ship", the bluesy riffing of "Street Scene", the 3-part long lines of "Visions", the epic (12:51) "Trip Merchant", and the sassy samba of "Love Drops" were all composed by Larry Young. If there's one extremely slight letdown to this album, it's the track sequencing. Whoever decided to follow up the boundary-pushing powerful chords and explosions of sound in "Trip Merchant" with the playful "Love Drops" was just being disrespectful. Wait until you hear Larry's and Lee's lengthy, mind-blowing solos on this track. Elsewhere Herbert Morgan may occasionally remind you of the one-and-only Wayne Shorter.

After Mother Ship, Young would leave Blue Note and go on to the Tony Williams Lifetime, the career move for which he's best-known today. Sadly, neither he nor Lee Morgan would live to see this album's release in 1980. While it's far less easy to find a copy of Mother Ship these days, I strongly urge anyone with an interest in Larry Young to pick this album up. The performances and compositions cry out for acclaim and deserve to be just as well-known as those on Unity.

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