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. Sometimes referred to as 'spiritual jazz', this style has made a comeback with young musicians, especially in London and Los Angeles.

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
4.84 | 103 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
4.96 | 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
4.85 | 10 ratings
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MCCOY TYNER Sahara Album Cover Sahara
MCCOY TYNER
4.71 | 23 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK Empyrean Isles Album Cover Empyrean Isles
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.65 | 32 ratings
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MANU KATCHÉ Neighbourhood Album Cover Neighbourhood
MANU KATCHÉ
4.86 | 5 ratings
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MCCOY TYNER Song for My Lady Album Cover Song for My Lady
MCCOY TYNER
4.70 | 11 ratings
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GARY BURTON Gary Burton / Chick Corea ‎: Crystal Silence Album Cover Gary Burton / Chick Corea ‎: Crystal Silence
GARY BURTON
4.66 | 13 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE Africa / Brass Album Cover Africa / Brass
JOHN COLTRANE
4.60 | 26 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK V.S.O.P. : Five Stars Album Cover V.S.O.P. : Five Stars
HERBIE HANCOCK
5.00 | 3 ratings
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OLD AND NEW DREAMS Playing Album Cover Playing
OLD AND NEW DREAMS
5.00 | 3 ratings
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CHRIS POTTER The Sirens Album Cover The Sirens
CHRIS POTTER
4.77 | 6 ratings
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post bop Music Reviews

TROY ROBERTS Green Lights

Album · 2024 · Post Bop
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Carmel
On "Green Lights," saxophonist and composer Troy Roberts embarks on a unique musical journey, illuminating the corridors of modern jazz with his vivid compositions and dynamic playing. His music draws a rich, emotive line through the map of his musical and geographical migrations, inviting the listener to connect with his personal experiences. This album, released under Toy Robot Music, reflects Roberts' artistic and personal journeys and marks the first time this gifted ensemble has recorded together under Roberts' leadership.

From the opening track, it's clear that "Green Lights" is based on conversational jazz between musicians who enjoy and respect each other. Roberts, alongside guitarist Paul Bollenback, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Jimmy MacBride, establishes a seamless dialogue that sounds telepathic. The ensemble's responsiveness and mutual intuition are the bedrock upon which this album is built.

"Green Lights" opens the album with a flourish. The synergy among the musicians is palpable, marked by Roberts' robust, expressive saxophone and the ensemble's crisp, fluid interaction. Bollenback's guitar, with its rich Fender Rhodes-like tone, and Patitucci's growling bass lines create a lush, rhythmic tapestry, setting the stage for an album that feels both explorative and grounded.

"The Question" and "By Your Side" are prime examples of the band's versatility, showcasing contemporary harmony and rhythm and a traditional jazz waltz, respectively. In "The Question," the ensemble skillfully navigates through the well-written composition, allowing Roberts to display his deft control over the tenor saxophone during his impressive solo. Meanwhile, "By Your Side" offers an emotive contrast, emphasizing lyrical solos and traditional jazz aesthetics. This diverse range of musical styles keeps the listener engaged and excited throughout the album.

"Solar Panels" is an up-tempo swing, based on a standard that allows the ensemble to weave through the progression with finesse and fervor. "Harry Brown" and "Jive Dumpling" further highlight the ensemble's chemistry and interactive playing. "Harry Brown" delves into modal jazz, while "Jive Dumpling" mixes modern and contemporary jazz for a playful, rhythmically intricate track that will surely put a smile on your face.

"Up To No Good" and "The Scotsman's Ballad" each offer different feels for the ensemble to express through. The former showcases modern jazz sensibility meshed with tight compositional structure, and the latter is a tender, profoundly emotive ballad highlighting Roberts' sensitivity and control. Ending with "Stretch Armstrong," the album revisits the roots of jazz in a straight-ahead swing that allows each musician to shine individually and, as a whole, bring the album to a compelling close.

"Green Lights" is an album built on camaraderie, resulting in an auditory journey that resonates with anyone who appreciates the beauty of skilled jazz musicianship and the stories it can tell.

PHAROAH SANDERS Pharoah Sanders Quartet ‎: Crescent With Love

Album · 1993 · Post Bop
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snobb
"Crescent With Love" is a Pharoah Sanders album released on the Japanese Venus label, a label well known for its specialization in "late night jazz" (or predominantly hard bop ballads) - original recordings of renown artists, released on albums with erotic-art covers. This album is dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Coltrane's death. Even if Sanders played in Coltrane's band during his avant-garde (post-1965) times, "Crescent With Love" contains material strictly from the mainstream jazz category. Which perfectly fits under Venus label philosophy for sure.

There are five Coltrane hard bop-period songs included, plus Duke Ellington's "In A Sentimental Mood", Erroll Garner's "Misty" and other jazz standards. Sanders leads a competent acoustic quartet with double bassist Charles Fambrough, drummer Sherman Ferguson and pianist William Henderson - his regular quartet of the early 90s.

Sanders doesn't try to imitate Coltrane's sound here, he plays his own warm, a bit sentimental, soulful jazz deeply rooted in the r'n'b and blues of Sanders' youth. The trio on support do their job well, building an unpretentious background for Sanders' slow to mid-tempo soloing. The musical material is of excellent quality, so fans of regular Venus releases will find this album really attractive. Not much is offered for freer and more explosive Sanders music fans though. The album has been released in US in 1994 (with alternate cover art), and reissued a few times after, so everyone interested can find it without big problems.

CURTIS TAYLOR Taylor Made

Album · 2024 · Post Bop
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js
Trumpeter Curtis Taylor released two EPs late in the previous decade, but the recent, “Taylor Made”, is his first full length album as a leader. Curtis is hardly a new comer to the jazz world, having already worked with Gregory Porter, Patrice Rushen, Cyrus Chestnut and many others. His new album reflects some modern trends in post bop jazz with its fusion and art rock/pop influences as in what you might get if you mixed pianist Bill Evans with Radiohead or Blur. Curtis has a clean and precise sound on the trumpet and avoids any gimmicks associated with the instrument in a style similar to current players like Marquis Hill and Wynton Marsalis, or going further back, Clifford Brown. Pianist Theron Brown reflects the art pop meets post bop sound of Brad Mehldau with a grounding in Herbie Hancock, and on the ballad material he might display grand loungey flourishes that recall Ahmad Jamal. Saxophonist Marcus Elliot recalls Joshua Redmon, with, once again, an ability to mix post bop and more current pop/rock type flavors.

“Taylor Made” is a fairly eclectic outing, one highlight is the high octane bop of “Heightened Awareness”, it would be nice to hear more tracks like this in the future. “Kham’s Dilemma” is abstract post bop with a fusion drive and “For Her” is the romantic ballad in 3/4 time. The last three tracks on the album get more into their art pop meets post bop blend with the imposing buildup chords of “Indomitable” sounding like an acoustic prog rock number. “Hashtagged” is in 7/4 time that is somewhat disguised as almost in waltz time. “Journey” has a driving snare rim click and sounds like something Miles’ second quintet would have played in the mid 60s. This is a nice start for Curtis, and with his background in jazz, RnB, pop and gspel, its hard to predict where he might head next.

RANDY NAPOLEON The Door Is Open : The Music of Gregg Hill

Album · 2024 · Post Bop
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Carmel
The essence of great jazz is an ensemble that can articulate a collaborative effort. “The Door is Open: The Music of Gregg Hill” by Randy Napoleon successfully creates such an environment. Napoleon's guitar work is deep within the jazz tradition and Hill's a composer of versatility, whose life experiences range from steering the wheel of a big rig to orchestrating the finances of a tech giant. Together, they infuse the album with an adventurous spirit that is delightful to listen to and experience.

“The Door is Open: The Music of Gregg Hill” is nine tracks built on the symbiotic relationship between composer and interpreter. Hill's compositions, delivered to Napoleon with minimal directives, become a canvas for expression, akin to poetic muses that beckon the ensemble into nuanced musical discussions. This dynamic interplay culminates in a sound that transcends the sum of its parts, creating a collective musical consciousness that resonates with the spontaneity of a Ouija board game, where the music flows through the musicians rather than from them.

The core ensemble featuring Rick Roe, Rodney Whitaker, Quincy Davis, and Aubrey Johnson, with Lucas LaFave stepping in for Whitaker on select tracks, embodies the essence of chemistry that can only be forged through deep musical and personal connections. Roe's piano artistry, a cornerstone of the Detroit bebop lineage, and Whitaker's bass playing anchors the album. Davis' forward-leaning drumming and Johnson's diverse vocals add layers of texture that are at once innovative and timeless.

Napoleon's guitar playing stands out for its lyrical beauty and technical finesse. His solos throughout the album, notably on "The Lost Tune" and "Escape to Cat Island," showcase a musician intensely rooted in the jazz tradition yet constantly pushing towards new horizons. His ability to meld with the ensemble while shining as a soloist exemplifies the album's collaborative spirit.

The inclusion of a horn section on several tracks adds another dimension to the album, with contributions from young talents such as Andrew Kim, whose trombone playing belies his youth, and seasoned pros like saxophonist Walter Blanding and trumpeter Anthony Stanco, who bring their unique voices to the ensemble. These arrangements reflect Napoleon's affinity for crafting soundscapes that envelop the listener in a rich, auditory embrace.

"Motel Blues" and "Skyline" illustrate the album's range, moving from gospel-infused swing to a poignant ballad that speaks with emotion and finesse. Whether delivering heartfelt lyrics or engaging in wordless interplay with the ensemble as a frontline instrument, Johnson's vocals are our guiding light through these varied emotional landscapes.

“The Door is Open: The Music of Gregg Hill” is a celebration of musical fellowship, compositional brilliance, and the boundless possibilities that arise when artists of such high caliber join forces. This album invites listeners and musicians alike to open the door to their own creative explorations.

ETHAN IVERSON Technically Acceptable

Album · 2024 · Post Bop
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Carmel
Ethan Iverson's second venture with Blue Note, "Technically Acceptable," is a sonic canvas that stretches across the broad landscape of jazz, marrying tradition with today's jazz in a way that only a musician of Iverson's caliber can. This set of thirteen songs shows his understanding of jazz's past, present, and path to the future, showcasing his skills as a pianist, composer, and curator of exceptional talent. Through the interplay of two distinct trios, Iverson navigates various jazz epochs, delivering a performance that celebrates the genre's rich investigation of sounds.

The album starts with the trio of Thomas Morgan on bass and Kush Abadey on drums, immediately grabbing your attention with "Conundrum." This opening track is an engaging blend of rhythmic precision, harmonic depth, and melodic uplift, peppered with classical flourishes towards its end. It clearly indicates the trio's synergy and Iverson's adeptness in crafting compositions that are as intellectually stimulating as they are emotionally resonant.

"Victory is Assured (Alla Breve)" embodies the essence of the West Coast jazz movement with its playful yet sophisticated approach, incorporating a traditional swing sensibility alongside Iverson's stride piano embellishments. This piece mirrors the spirit of artists from the West Coast scene, known for their cool, contrapuntal jazz flavors and a penchant for blending classical influences with jazz improvisation. The track's structure and rhythmic complexity pay homage to the era's characteristic blend of meticulous, elegant rhythm and spontaneous expression, marking an expression that resonates with the historical depth and artistic innovation of mid-20th-century jazz.

The title track, "Technically Acceptable," plunges into the heart of hard bop with a display of complexity and spontaneity. The trio crafts an intricate flow of rhythmic and harmonic lines while achieving a seamless blend of technical skill and expressive depth. This composition embodies the quintessential qualities of hard bop—soulful expression, dynamic interplay, and a robust bop and gospel rhythmic foundation. Through this track, the essence of hard bop's golden era can be heard in Iverson's fusion of virtuosic skill and melodic intensity that characterizes the genre's enduring appeal.

Meanwhile, tracks like "It's Fine to Decline" venture into avant-garde domains, echoing the adventurous and boundary-pushing piano styles that are hallmarks of the genre's most innovative artists. This piece demonstrates the trio's adeptness at navigating dynamic shifts in style and atmosphere, embodying the spirit of exploration and experimentation. The composition pays tribute to the legacy of pioneering pianists who blended a wide array of influences—from classical to bebop and beyond—into their playing, creating a sound that defies categorization. This track captures the essence of avant-garde jazz's freedom, showcasing a commitment to add avant-garde textures to a conventional jazz form with maximum musical expression.

The album's latter half introduces a second trio with Simón Willson on bass and Vinnie Sperrazza on drums, offering fresh interpretations of standards. Their take on "Killing Me Softly with His Song" is a balance of space and melodic expression, while the rendition of Monk's "'Round Midnight" is a standout, with Rob Schwimmer's theremin adding an ethereal dimension to the timeless classic. This second ensemble amplifies the piano's role, allowing Iverson to delve deeper into melodic development and showcase his exceptional range, as in the European jazz flavors of "The Feeling is Mutual."

Iverson's solo work on the three-movement "Piano Sonata" is a riveting conclusion to the album, blending blues, stride, and classical influences to showcase his virtuosity and creative vision. The movements navigate through tempos and textures with a narrative coherence reflecting Iverson's deep musical intellect and ability to transcend genre boundaries.

Throughout "Technically Acceptable," Iverson and his collaborators profoundly respect jazz's lineage while merging with today's jazz structures. The album is a vibrant dialogue between the past and the present, marked by introspection, exuberance, and sheer musicality. Iverson's playing is a bridge between eras, infused with a modernist spirit that respects tradition without being constrained. The contributions of both trios are indispensable, each bringing a unique texture and perspective that enrich the album's sonic palette.

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JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

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