Hard Bop

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Cool jazz's reign as the prevalent jazz style after bop's demise was short lived as many jazz players, especially on the east coast, wanted to return to a style of jazz that had a little more grit and aggression. Hard bop was a return to some of the ascetics of bop, but also offered some new differences. Hard bop brought back the faster tempos of the bop era, but in hard bop the harmonic changes did not come in such rapid fire succession and musicians found themselves stretching out on longer modal style solos. The new emphasis on albums rather than singles also led to longer songs. Hard bop players also began to bring more influences from the church, blues and RnB into jazz which foreshadowed the coming of soul jazz. Despite an influx of avant-garde jazz in the 60s, hard bop remained the prevalent jazz style until the emergence of fusion in the late 60s. Hard bop has enjoyed many revivals over the years and remains one of the most enduring and popular styles in jazz. Miles Davis is considered an early innovator in the field of hard bop, but Art Blakey and the many musicians who played in his Jazz Messengers are considered to be the epitome of the style.

hard bop top albums

Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 24 hours caching

JOHN COLTRANE Blue Train Album Cover Blue Train
JOHN COLTRANE
4.74 | 69 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE My Favorite Things Album Cover My Favorite Things
JOHN COLTRANE
4.73 | 59 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE Live at Birdland Album Cover Live at Birdland
JOHN COLTRANE
4.82 | 17 ratings
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WES MONTGOMERY The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery Album Cover The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery
WES MONTGOMERY
4.85 | 13 ratings
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MILES DAVIS 'Round About Midnight (aka Miles Davis) Album Cover 'Round About Midnight (aka Miles Davis)
MILES DAVIS
4.72 | 45 ratings
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LEE MORGAN City Lights Album Cover City Lights
LEE MORGAN
4.88 | 8 ratings
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HORACE SILVER Horace Silver And The Jazz Messengers Album Cover Horace Silver And The Jazz Messengers
HORACE SILVER
4.87 | 8 ratings
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DEXTER GORDON A Swingin' Affair Album Cover A Swingin' Affair
DEXTER GORDON
4.90 | 7 ratings
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ART BLAKEY Free For All Album Cover Free For All
ART BLAKEY
4.70 | 19 ratings
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JACKIE MCLEAN Right Now! Album Cover Right Now!
JACKIE MCLEAN
4.79 | 10 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE Giant Steps Album Cover Giant Steps
JOHN COLTRANE
4.60 | 73 ratings
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CHARLES MINGUS Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Album Cover Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus
CHARLES MINGUS
4.63 | 22 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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hard bop New Releases

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Look Ahead
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CHRIS BYARS
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Between The Bars
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BEHN GILLECE
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The Inevitable Note
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TIM ARMACOST
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Swingin' Up in Harlem
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LAFAYETTE HARRIS JR
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The Heavy Hitters
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MIKE LEDONNE
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Standard-ized
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ERIC GOLETZ
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hard bop Music Reviews

ERIC DOLPHY Quartet 1961 (aka Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise aka Complete Recordings aka Live In Germany aka Munich Jam Session December 1-1961,etc,etc)

Live album · 1981 · Hard Bop
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Mssr_Renard
This archival live-album has three long songs (standards) on three sides. On vinyl it is tricky to have more than 20 minutes on each side, because it effects the soundquality.

As these recordings date from 1961, it in fact sounds surprisingly good. But don't expect too much, because it has its flaws. Still it is an enjoyable listen, once you are used to it.

The line-up is superb. Here Dolphy (on bass-clarinet only) has a strong line-up with McCoy Tyner (named Lalo Schifrin on the sleeve) on piano, who has some very long and outstanding solos. On bass no other than Reggie Workman (named Bob Cunningham on the sleeve) and on drums Mel Lewis.

My guess is that Reggie and McCoy used aliasses because of their contracts.

Dolphy was touring with Coltrane in Europe at this moment, and Reggie and McCoy joined Dolphy on this date. It would have been great if Elvin Jones would have participated aswell.

This livealbum is fantastic and a must-have for collectors of Dolphy, Tyner and a missing piece in the Coltrane-discography

ERIC GOLETZ Standard-ized

Album · 2023 · Hard Bop
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js
After working as a sideman and session musician for 30 years, trombonist Eric Goletz has, for the last three years, been putting out a new album as leader every year, which brings us to 2023’s, “Standard-ized”. Whereas Eric’s earlier efforts focused on original music, this new one, as if you could not tell from the title, features standards, with many arranged in different styles than you may have heard them before. There are a variety of ensembles at work here as well, ranging from trios to septets, with some selections featuring a string quartet.

I get the feeling Eric was working on a more contemporary radio friendly approach on his new album when circumstances pushed things in a different direction. Apparently Eric and his group had been given a casual cocktail gig on which they decided to just have fun playing songs that they knew well. It’s what musicians call a ‘blowing session’, playing freely on songs that they are very comfortable with and having rambunctious fun doing it. So successful was this gig that they decided to record a demo to score similar jobs and so successful was this recording session that they decided to return and record even more tunes. The end result is an album that is about one half blowing session, and about one half radio friendly ballads which are often backed by the string quartet and led by vocalist Lajuan Carter.

For my money, the best part of this CD is the high flying bop numbers like “Mayreh”, “Just in Time” and “Nutville”. On these the band sounds loose and relaxed, On first listen I thought these tunes were being played live, and apparently a lot of them were unrehearsed first takes in the studio. There are also a couple soul jazz groove tracks that bear a similar energy. Of the ballads, the best is Eric, backed only with bass and drums, playing Stevie Wonder’s sublime “Overjoyed”. This is an album of standards and fortunately they picked a lot of tunes that have not been overplayed, but there are also a couple tracks on here that some of us have probably heard a few too many times.

TINA BROOKS True Blue

Album · 1960 · Hard Bop
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Mssr_Renard
The only album of Tina Brooks to be released during his lifetime. All of his other albums were released posthumous.

This album is very strong, containing 5 originals and 1 standard. The rhythmsection containing Sam Jones, Art Taylor and Duke Jordan is extremely tight and adventurous. Of course the stars of this album are Tina Brooks and Freddie Hubbard. Their interplay is infectious and both of the gentlemen are very hot here.

This album is a musthave hardbopper and I can recommend it to anyone. Also any Hubbard-enthiousiast should at least try this one out.

Extra points go to Duke Jordan, who in my opinion is very underrated (like fellow-bop-pianist Kenny Drew)

JOHNNY GRIFFIN The Little Giant

Album · 1959 · Hard Bop
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js
Johnny Griffin is a power house tenor player that deserves more recognition, but really, almost any great sax player who is not Coltrane or Charlie Parker could use a little more props. Johnny’s album, “The Little Giant”, came out in 1959, right in the middle of that mid 50s to mid 60s period in jazz when all the recordings sounded great and so many musicians were at a creative peak. Joining Griffin on here is an all-star cast, including a very young trombonist, Julian Priester. Julian will go on to perform avant-garde jazz with Sun Ra, Herbie Hancock’s electronic sextet and also some very out there combos of his own, so its interesting to hear him playing swinging solos in a hard bop context. The three man horn line is completed with Blue Mitchell on trumpet, giving the group an almost big band sound at times.

The three songs written by Norman Simmons make the most of this horn ensemble with complicated arrangements that often imitate big bands in their call and response between horn sections, and between soloist and ensemble. His, “Olive Refractions”, opens the album with high speed bop and the best arrangement on the album. Other tracks include Babs Gonzazlez’s, “Lonely One”, an exotic number that has Griffin playing a melody over tympani like tom toms before moving into a high speed free modal jam. “Playmates”, by Saxie Dowell is an odd choice with its bright major key contrasting with all the minor blues on this album. The song sounds like a cross between early New Orleans jazz and a TV beer commercial, but its sunny flavor does make for an interesting contrast. Griffin penned “63rd Street Theme”, a noire blues that would work great as a ‘crime jazz’ soundtrack.

JIM WITZEL Feelin' It

Album · 2022 · Hard Bop
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js
Jim Witzel is a veteran jazz guitarist who has worked with artists such as John Patitucci, Ernie Watts, John Abercrombie and many others in LA, San Francisco and elsewhere, but “Feelin It” is only his second album as a leader, and it comes a full twenty years after his first album. Witzel’s style is blues based hard bop, but he plays with a soft tone similar to Jim Hall or Pat Metheny. He counts those two, as well as Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Pat Martino and John Abercrombie as influences. Jim is joined on here by some old friends and jam session cohorts, Jason Lewis on drums and Brian Ho on B-3, making them a classic soul jazz organ trio. On three tracks they are joined by tenor saxophonist Dann Zinn. Dann is probably the most fiery soloist here as he veers from blues based licks to fast flying sheets of sound that recall Coltrane or Johnny Griffin. Brian has an interesting style on the B-3 in that he avoids a lot of the standard B-3 soul jazz figures and instead plays with a more flowing melodic style that can build in intensity.

The two opening tracks and “Beyond Bejing” are fast moving swingin hard bop, while the two closing tracks take on a more medium groove 60s Blue Note feel. In between we have a relaxed, almost spacey take on “Norwegian Wood” and a ballad rendition of “I Loves You, Porgy” that has Jim double tracking his guitars. “If Ever I Would Leave You” starts with a Latin feel, but then goes into an aggressive swing feel for one of Brian’s best B-3 buildups. Three of the tracks are Witzel originals.

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Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
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My Favorite Things Hard Bop
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