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.

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post bop Music Reviews

WAYNE SHORTER The Collector (aka Etcetera)

Album · 1979 · Post Bop
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Steve Wyzard
WAYNE: THE GREAT ONE

So what's the best Wayne Shorter album? While many would opt for Night Dreamer, The All-Seeing Eye, or Adam's Apple, let it be said here that in spite of its complicated release history, Et Cetera is his crowning achievement as a leader in the studio. Recorded on June 14, 1965, four of the five tracks (all except "Toy Tune") were released with "The Collector" (an outtake from Adam's Apple) in Japan only. The full album was finally given a wide release as part of Blue Note's "LT" series in 1980.

As of this writing (2019), all four performers are still with us today: Wayne on tenor sax, Herbie Hancock on piano, Cecil McBee on bass, and Joe Chambers on drums. The low-key opener, "Etcetera" (6:20) is an ever-opening flower, both hypnotizing and unforgettable as it gradually unfolds. I have no idea if this was ever performed live, but it would have made a phenomenal solo trade-off number on stage. One of Shorter's most beautiful ballads, "Penelope" (6:44), comes next, with Wayne's tone and Herbie's solo being especially poignant. The light and breezy "Toy Tune" (7:22) is followed by Gil Evans's "Barracudas" (11:04). This intense workout gives the group a chance to stretch out, with both Wayne and Herbie having their most awe-inspiring moments on the album. Cecil McBee's bizarre bassline and substantial solo dominate the closing "Indian Song" (11:35). Everyone is at the top of their game throughout, and fans of all four players are urged to seek this one out.

It remains an unfathomable mystery why it took 15 years for this album to be released in USA/Europe. I will even go so far as to say that this is the best release in the famous (or is it infamous?) "LT" series, beating out Larry Young's Mother Ship and Grant Green's Nigeria by a close margin. Don't let Et Cetera's original cover dissuade you: yes, it's a wall of TV's. Huh?

CAROL SUDHALTER Live At Saint Peter's Church

Live album · 2019 · Post Bop
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kev rowland
Sudhalter has been a well-known saxophonist and flautist on the New York scene for many years, both forming and fronting various groups and bands and also working with others on their recordings. She is also a teacher of jazz and spends a month in Italy each year both touring and teaching, which is probably why both essays in this booklet have also been repeated in Italian. Although she is also known for playing tenor sax, this live recording features her just on flute and baritone, although she does also provide vocals on one song (apparently for the very first time). Along with Patrick Poladian (piano), Kevin Hailey (bass) and Mike Campenni (drums) she produces a very relaxed modern jazz performance, which is full of emotion and delicacy.

The musicians know when to keep it all in the background and provide simple emotion, with “Time Remembered” being a wonderful example of restraint as the guys let Carol’s flute lead the way, and they provide the few notes needed to be a perfect accompaniment. Although all three are fine musicians, as one would expect, a special mention should be made of Kevin Hailey whose delicate touch on the bass combined with a complete understanding of the genre is simply sublime. There is nothing too extreme on this recording. Recorded at the Midday Jazz Midtown in the famous Saint Peter's Church in New York City on March 7th, 2018, this is easy to listen to jazz which is a delight.

MICKEY TUCKER SoJourn

Album · 1977 · Post Bop
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js
Mickey Tucker is one of those ‘best musician you may have never heard of’ kind of guys. Well known amongst fellow jazz musicians, Mickey is less known to the general public because he mostly worked as a sideman, albeit with some top names such as Art Blakey, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Phil Woods. Another factor working against Tucker was the fact that he never got with the whole commercial fusion/smooth jazz trip, and so he probably did not get much attention, or help, from the record labels. Much like Woody Shaw and Joanne Brackeen, Mickey played jazz straight through the 70s, but just like those two, his post bop was wild and energetic, sometimes hanging on the edge of pure mayhem. Released in 1977, when most fusion had run out of steam, “Sojourn” is a blast of hot swing rhythm in a modern stylle with plenty of intense solos to go around. Given the mundane state of affairs at that time, “Sojourn” was probably one of the best jazz albums of the year.

Side one opens with the jagged arrangement of the high octane, “Fast Train to Zurich”. This one recalls Eric Dolphy in the early 60s as the players hang on and try to ride a very up tempo rush of chord changes. Another side one highlight is the African groove of “Tunisian Festival”. Side two opens with a McCoy Tyner style modal jam and closes with some funky hard bop, one of the few medium tempo ensemble numbers on the album. In between these two you get an incredible solo piano piece which has Mickey mixing modern concert hall atonality with abstract blues and old school stride. Tucker was different from the popular 70s trio of Corea/Hancock/Jarret, he drew from a deeper well of some older methods, much like Jaki Byard or Sun Ra, and it would be no surprise if Tucker was an influence on the somewhat similarly oriented Matthew Shipp.

As mentioned earlier, “Sojourn” was probably one of the best jazz records of 1977, Herbie Hancock’s “VSOP” return to post bop came out that same year and look at how much attention that got. Mickey’s album is just as good, and in a rugged honest sort of way, maybe better. Too bad it was barely noticed, if at all.

DAVE RUDOLPH Resonance

Album · 2018 · Post Bop
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kev rowland
‘Resonance’ is the recording debut as a leader of drummer Dave Rudolph, who is based in Tampa, Florida. Rudolph is a veteran of the local scene for the last 25 years and is also currently the Professor of Contemporary Percussion at the University of Tampa. Inspired by his close friend Jessica Hiltabidle, who passed away recently, he realized that he was long overdue to record his own music. He has brought together a band of local musicians to bring his dream to reality, namely tenor-saxophonist Zach Bornheimer, guitarist LaRue Nickelson, pianist Pablo Arencibia and bassist Alejandro Arenas and together they perform nine of Rudolph’s originals. These are all instrumental, apart from the title song where be brought in Whitney James to provide vocals.

This is an album which takes no work at all to relax into, and the very first time I played it I knew I was in for an enjoyable time. Some jazz albums are bloody hard work, some concentrate solely on the skills of those playing. None of that is the case here, as we are treated to a band who really do feel like a band. I wasn’t surprised to discover that Rudolph started on guitar before moving onto drums, as this really is a very melodic album, and not as heavily rhythmic as some where the leader is also the percussionist. Although they are a quintet it isn’t unusual for the band to be working as a trio, such as on “Lonely Train” where Arenas keeps it all together, Rudolph displays lots of different tricks and styles, and at the front we are treated to a masterclass in understatement from Nickelson who shows there really is no need to play 9000 notes to the bar if you have an affinity to what you are doing.

Fresh, full of space, full of class, this post-bop set is creative, enjoyable, and a damn fine listen. It is possible to hear the album by going to the website at www.daverudolph.net.

ERIC DOLPHY Musical Prophet : The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions

Boxset / Compilation · 2018 · Post Bop
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js
In early July 1963 Eric Dolphy went into the studio and recorded several new tunes as well as a couple of covers. He worked with a variety of ensembles ranging from mini big band to smaller combos, as well as several duets with bassist Richard Davis. Several tracks were selected from that session and released on the album that came to be known as “Conversations”. Several years after Eric’s death, more of the session was released under the title “Iron Man”. Recently the good folks at Resonance collected all these recordings together, plus some other odds and ends and a few alternate takes and released the whole thing as “Eric Dolphy Musical Prophet”, and needless to say, this sucker is bursting with goodness.

Its nice to have all these recordings in one place now because the previous albums were sometimes frustrating in what was kept and what was left out, now its all here in one package. The variety on this CD is admirable. For those who like Eric’s bebop side there’s “Jitterbug Waltz” and “Iron Man”. Dolphy displays his ultra modern compositional style with “Mandrake” and “Burning Spear” and his duets with Richard Davis show a deep meditative side that results in chamber music of concert hall quality. There is one track taken from a different recording session, and that is “A Personal Statement”, an avant-garde tone poem that features vocalist David Schwartz vocalizing lyrics about Jim Crow laws in the US south.

For Eric Dolphy fans and those interested in the more experimental side of 60s jazz, this collection is essential. Of most interest to many of us is how advanced many of Eric’s compositions were. Listening to how he shifts time signatures and tempos while playing both inside and outside of the chord changes we hear much of what is happening in jazz today. Eric was not really a ‘free player’, and he was also far from conventional, instead, Dolphy had unique takes on composition and tonality that were decades ahead of his time.

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