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
4.82 | 88 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK Empyrean Isles Album Cover Empyrean Isles
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.75 | 24 ratings
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MCCOY TYNER Sahara Album Cover Sahara
MCCOY TYNER
4.72 | 18 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 | 5 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK V.S.O.P. Album Cover V.S.O.P.
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.81 | 8 ratings
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MCCOY TYNER Song for My Lady Album Cover Song for My Lady
MCCOY TYNER
4.74 | 8 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK Speak Like a Child Album Cover Speak Like a Child
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.62 | 17 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
4.71 | 7 ratings
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GARY BURTON Gary Burton / Chick Corea ‎: Crystal Silence Album Cover Gary Burton / Chick Corea ‎: Crystal Silence
GARY BURTON
4.67 | 9 ratings
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ENRICO RAVA The Plot Album Cover The Plot
ENRICO RAVA
4.79 | 5 ratings
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CHRIS POTTER The Sirens Album Cover The Sirens
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4.85 | 4 ratings
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MANU KATCHÉ Neighbourhood Album Cover Neighbourhood
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4.96 | 3 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

MICHAEL O'NEILL The Michael O'Neill Quartet : And Then It Rained

Album · 2020 · Post Bop
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js
“And then it Rained” is saxophonist Michael O’Neill’s fifth album, but it is his first to not feature a vocalist, nor any standards. “Rained” is an all instrumental outing for his quartet, and every tune is an O’Neill original. Michael is a San Francisco Bay Area veteran and has been active in local clubs and restaurants for close to two decades. On this first CD of all originals, Mike performs on alto, tenor and soprano saxophone, as well as clarinet. O’Neill’s playing can be very clean, buoyant and precise, sometimes recalling Paul Desmond or Cannonball Adderly. He is also apt to slyly throw in some well known Charlie Parker clichés and probably gained influence from his one time teacher, Joe Henderson. Michael Bluestein almost steals the spotlight on piano with well constructed and intense solos that show influence from McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Latin jazz and classical romanticism. Its hard to believe this guy is actually the keyboardist for Foreigner. Apparently several months out of the year he is ‘hot blooded’, and you can ‘check it and see’. Dan Feiszli is a melodic bassist who takes the forefront occasionally and drummer Jason Lewis provides good pocket and groove, as well as an ability to free things up if the band heads that way.

Some recommended tracks include up tempo Latin numbers such as “One for Kenny” and “Maverick’s Samba”. Bill Evans styled impressionism is featured on “Early Spring”, while title track “And then it Rained” features a cool modal groove jam. Free flowing post bop rides like “Four Cornered Circle” and “Suite Iris” allow Jason to get his ‘Elvin Jones’ on.

MASAHIKO SATOH 佐藤允彦 Masahiko Satoh Trio : Transformation '69/'71

Album · 1971 · Post Bop
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snobb
Almost all of Japanese pianist Masahiko Sato's albums were released solely in Japan which means they are not easily accessible in the Western world. For those interested in the best Japanese jazz, his name is probably heard, but the problem is where to start with his prolific discography.

Being one of the very best Japanese jazz pianists of the last half-a-century (the other equal name is Yosuke Yamashita), Sato released plenty of albums, and they all are quite different stylistically. He was one of the leading stars of the early Japanese avant-garde jazz scene, switched towards fusion later, returned back to freer forms, collaborated with more modern electronics wizards, etc, etc.

Still, if you are new to his music, and want to chose the one album where to start, "Transformation '69/'71" is the place.

Side A is recorded in 1969 and the music is excellent post-bop, groovy and elegant, with Sato's original "Tigris" being almost a jazz standard level song. This material comes from exactly same sessions (March 17 and 20, 1969) which are presented on Sato's debut album "Palladium"(1969).

Side B is recorded with the same trio (including another Japanese avant-garde jazz scene legend drummer Masahiko Togashi and more straight and lesser known acoustic bassist Yasuo Arakawa), but two years later. The album's title comes from those two session dates and the second one is polarly different from the first one.

Still with some beauty and grace, the trio here plays knotty jazz with lots of air inside. As it is characteristic almost exclusively to early avant-garde jazz, being a free form music here radiates some spiritual energy and doesn't sound as formalistic experiment at all. It's interesting that "cosmic" effects on side B are produced by Togashi percussion, not early synth.

It doesn't evidence Satos' evolution from mainstream towards free jazz though, since during these same few years he played very different music (the good example of his r'n'b / jazz rock album is 1970 "Bridge Over Troubled Water").

This short (less than 35 minutes) album is a quintessence of Satoh's music, and it's sound quality is extremely high even for so high raised Japanese jazz recordings sound standards of the early 70s. Original vinyl is a rarity, but 2011 CD reissue (of same excellent crisp sound) being out of press still circulates on secondary market.

MASABUMI KIKUCHI Feel You

Album · 1993 · Post Bop
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snobb
Piano player Masabumi Kikuchi, who passed away in 2015, was an unsung hero of multicultural American-Japanese jazz. Born in Tokyo in 1939 and living in New York from 1974, he went a long way on both US and Japan scenes, playing with greats such as Gil Evans, Elvin Jones, Joe Henderson and Terumasa Hino among many others. Masabumi experienced early fame as a leader playing then popular fusion in early 70s, and partially playing an early synthesizers jazz. From 90s, he became a member of Paul Motian band for decades still releasing his own albums extensively.

"Feel You" is one of Kikuchi's more obscure releases, recorded in New York and released in Japan and Germany. Here Masabumi plays as old school acoustic trio with lesser known Americans bassist James Genus and drummer Victor Jones. Stylistically covering large range of genres, "Feel You" is first of all true TRIO's album. Each member has his own significant voice here, and there is enough space for every one of them.

Album opens and closes with "Pain Killer"(I & II respectively). Funky memorable tune with deep wooden bass sounds as if the bassist is a leader of the trio. "Zig Zag" comes as true 70s post bop song with a spark, here (as well as on some others compositions) one can hear Kikuchi's moaning, not in such annoying way as Jarrett does, fortunately.

"Free Stroll" is mid-tempo freer piece, as it's title says, and the longest song on this album. Partially constructed as a dialogue between soloing piano and double bass with a support of drummer, this song is surprisingly accessible, even attractive despite of its quite loose structure.

"Little Treat" is a little ballad quite similar to such well known from Paul Motian's trio recordings (surprisingly, it is James Genus' original, the only other than Kikuchi's originals on this album, which besides of them contains two standards as well). "It Never Entered My Mind" is one of the standards (written by Hart & Rodgers), sounding here slightly melancholic and very airy.

Masabumi Kikuchi was known by his own very individual piano playing manner, when playing he's been leaving a lot of silence between separate notes. Some called his manner "a Japanese influence", he often wasn't agreeable with this tag, but as a result his music is very often quite meditative, with a touch of melancholy, but with a strict control over emotional coloring. Being a child of two radically different megalopolises, Tokyo and New York, Masabumi very often sounds as a lonely artist in a big city. Like Woody Allen in his movies, Masabumi paints his New York, just not from the Near East or Eastern Europe (Allen's heritage), but from his big city Zen-Buddhist roots.

"Up Beat Blues" actually is a brilliant post-bop piece with sultry sound demonstrating excellent collaboration between all three band members. "20th St. Shuffle" is an acoustic fusion of sort, where Kikuchi plays minimalist staccato piano over the drummer's fanfares, imitating a moving train's sound all song long.

Even if the album looks quite eclectic in genres on paper, in real life it sounds organic, united in one musical post from a capable and inspired trio.

Since both original vinyl releases (Japanese and European) are collectable rarities, the only existing reissue on CD (coming from Japan,2015) is probably easier and cheaper to find. Not really the album for newcomers, "Feel You" is interesting and valuable release for everyone who already found out the original beauty of Kikuchi's better known works and wants more.

YOSHIO SUZUKI Friends

Album · 1973 · Post Bop
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snobb
Former Sadao Watanabe bassist Yoshio Suzuki's solo debut album is an essential example of what Japanese jazz of that time is. High energy mid to fast tempo perfectly executed compositions (all - Suzuki originals) that are well played and even better recorded in a warm wood sound fashion of the audiophile dream of the time, Three Blind Mice Records.

Five compositions played by the Suzuki quartet (with the addition of flutist Hideo Miyata on Samba De Chico) are characteristic transitional from post bop to acoustic fusion pieces with bop rhythmic structures and rock band energy.

Sax player Kohsuke Mine is in his best form (few months later he will release his probably best ever album "Out Of Chaos" in a very similar style), pushing the music ahead with his soulful but high energy soloing. Suzuki acoustic bass is competent, if not too original, drummer Hiroshi Murakami (Masabumi Kikuchi band's member for years) is A-list collaborator and pianist Takehiro Honda is another star on his own a member of Sadao Watanabe's quartet at the time of this album's release).

After four more traditional pieces (each between eight and ten minutes long), the album's closer is different - "Samba De Chico" represents an early fusion take on Latin jazz, adding a guest flutist soloing over the whole composition. It is the least successful song on the album, where a too fast tempo destroys authentic Latin music beauty converting it to not too impressive soundtrack for Taco advert.

To be a really great album, the music here probably lacks more compositional originality, but "Friends" is still a really good album and could be recommended for those enjoying Kohsuke Mine's early works.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Extrapolation

Album · 1969 · Post Bop
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js
John McLaughlin, much like his contemporary and sometimes band mate, Chick Corea, started his career with a very distinctive style, only to abandon that approach and tone things down for the rest of his career. Interesting to note that both were influenced by guru types when they changed their way of playing. “Extrapolation” is McLughlin’s first album as a leader and features a young guitarist willing to take crazy chances while plying with a fierce intensity that never totally returns on subsequent albums. Don’t get me wrong, John had many more great performances and recordings throughout the rest of his career, but he never again played with the freedom and abandon he does here. This McLaughlin has a rough approach that is both avant-garde and rootsy at the same time, especially compared to the po0lished sheen of many of his later albums.

The music on “Extrapolation” is all McLaughlin originals that combine bop, blues, free jazz, RnB and Indian music. Besides John, the next star of the show here is the versatile and energetic drumming of Tony Oxley, who is right at home playing anything from bluesy grooves to all out free onslaughts. John Surman’s gnarly baritone fit’s the gritty music perfectly as he adds his solos that combine RnB riffing with soaring free jazz. Brian Odges is an anchor on bass, and his well recorded input adds strength to the mix. Many of the tunes are very short and eclectic ranging from ballads to avant-garde bebop, but the best tracks are the longer ones where the band is given time to build their intensity. Listen to John’s intense note bends influenced by Indian music. Along with dropping the freer tonality, McLaughlin never recorded as much in that style again. Indian note bends have always been a part of his playing, but on this first album he merges this with a soulful blues flavor that adds so much bite to his solos. Some of John’s subsequent work with Miles Davis also features his earlier approach to the guitar.

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