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 | 91 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 | 7 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK Empyrean Isles Album Cover Empyrean Isles
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.75 | 25 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. 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
4.75 | 9 ratings
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WAYNE SHORTER The Collector (aka Etcetera) Album Cover The Collector (aka Etcetera)
WAYNE SHORTER
4.78 | 7 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK Speak Like a Child Album Cover Speak Like a Child
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.62 | 18 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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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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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

VIJAY IYER Uneasy

Album · 2021 · Post Bop
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snobb
Last year in jazz, heavily influenced by the COVID pandemic, wasn't a regular one. With live gigs and even studio recording sessions being very often unavailable for many, musical market reacted quite soon flooding on-line sales points with tons of vaults material, rehearsal recordings and DIY-level home-made new music, which too often wouldn't be released under normal conditions at all.

There still were released (and still continue to come) some really good albums during these difficult times, renowned American pianist Vijay Iyer's new just released "Uneasy" is one of them.

It is Iyer's second trio album for ECM, the previous one was released in 2015, but the new trio is quite different from the first one. In fact, now we have a super-trio of sort, including one of the brightest creative drummer of the last few years Tyshawn Sorey and growing stylish bassist Linda Oh, who's solo works require a wider introduction, and she's one of the busiest acoustic bassist on today's scene as a collaborator.

From the very first sounds one will note that the new album sounds quite unusual for an ECM release. Recorded at Oktaven Audio Studio in Mount Vernon, NY, it doesn't have that characteristic cool and sterile sound of Oslo's Rainbow studio, or some other European facilities beloved by ECM. The opener, "Children Of Flint", is one of the best compositions on the whole album, with a lot of emotion and even some drama. As almost all the other album's songs, it is an Iyer's original (Gerri Allen’s “Drummer’s Song” and not really impressive version of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” are the two only non-originals here).

Iyer's own compositions come from different periods of time, some of them have been already recorded on his other albums. Still, here they sound way different. Not as radical as many of Iyer's previous albums, "Uneasy", with its dominating mid-tempo all-acoustic groovy sound and extremely successful balance between post-bop tradition, creativity and modern sound, is possibly one great candidate for being a soundtrack for this last pandemic year - worried, calmer, sad and hopeful. Surprisingly, it was recorded in December 2019, but it anticipates pretty well the atmosphere of changes which came very soon.

Quite accessible, it brings lot of pleasure when listening, one of the very best works already released this year.

KENNY WHEELER All the More

Album · 1997 · Post Bop
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Steve Wyzard
OBSCURE MASTERPIECE

Recorded in 1993, mixed in 1994, but not released until 1997, Kenny Wheeler's All the More is nothing short of a quartet masterpiece. Sadly, even many from Kenny's worldwide following have not heard this album, as it only appeared on an obscure Italian label, Soul Note. Not only that, but it was competing in the marketplace with the much higher-profile ECM album, Angel Song, with which it shares a common composition, "Nonetheless". The two albums will not be compared as they are very different, but I really wish All the More had been better marketed and distributed, as it is truly one of Wheeler's best albums over a long and checkered career.

This album's instrumentation (trumpet/piano/bass/drums) should remind many of another well-known Wheeler album. Backed by Keith Jarrett, Dave Holland, and Jack DeJohnette, 1976's Gnu High first brought Wheeler to international attention in his mid-40's. All the More is a much longer and more fiery album than Gnu High, and Wheeler plays far more trumpet than flugelhorn. Pianist John Taylor and drummer Joe LaBarbera have backed many different performers over the years, but have never sounded as impassioned as they do on this album. I was not familiar with bassist Furio di Castri until hearing this performance, but he more than holds his own and makes a major contribution throughout. The ever-generous Wheeler makes sure everybody receives extensive time in the solo spotlight. There's even room for a Bill Evans tribute, LaBarbera's composition "Kind of Bill".

The multi-faceted work of Kenny Wheeler includes free jazz, avant-garde jazz, and a huge pile of compositions for both big band and much smaller ensembles. His biggest sellers are sometimes dismissed with pejoratives such as "pensively lyrical" or "ethereally haunted". While it's possible to understand where these critics are coming from, none of these adjectives apply to All the More, which is not only one of his best, but also one of the most significant (in spite of its obscurity) jazz albums of the late 1990's. The fact it didn't have the distribution of an ECM album makes it harder to find, but the search will be more than repaid to fans of the players involved. Let it also be known that this album shares a composition ("Mark Time") with Wheeler's other masterpiece, 1984's Double Double You.



MAX HAYMER Whirlwind - Live At Sam First

Live album · 2020 · Post Bop
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js
Continuing my relentless pursuit to bring forth those artists who are not getting near the recognition they deserve, I think many a jazz fan would do well to check out pianist Max Haymer. This man is an absolute powerhouse on the piano with a highly developed technique in the league of Art Tatum, Eddie Palmieri and the young pre-scientology Chick Corea. I also hear a lot of Ahmad Jamal, not just Jamal’s lounge tendencies, but also his fired up free fusion performances. Max isn’t just a technician though, there is an abundance of imagination in his solos as he will often rapidly cut from one idea to the next while quickly throwing in perfectly executed jaggedy syncopated Latin rhythms. This is a very physical pianist, that fact that he was also a top notch soccer player in college comes as no surprise. As a long time piano teacher and former athlete, I can attest to the close relationship between sports and musical performance. So often my students who devote themselves to a skill in sports will also develop the quick intuition and reflexes of a strong music performer.

‘Whirlwind’ is only Max’s second album as a leader, so possibly that is why he is not better known. Some of you may already know him from his usual main gig as pianist for Arturo Sandoval. Haymer has also worked with many other well known jazz artists, which is also true for his backup band, David Robaire on bass and Dan Schnelle on drums. Dan plays in today’s modern post bop style, which is to say he is constantly all over the kit in a robust conversation with Max. David plays the bass like it should be played, he stays on the low end of the instrument while staying nimble enough to offer support to his rapidly moving band mates.

So many good tracks on here, but some that stand out would include a burning high speed version of ‘Love for Sale’ and a complex rhythmic original called ‘Gold Plated Dime’. ‘Welcoming’ is the mystical track sounding much like an impressionistic concert hall piece. “Speak Low’ is the one track where that Jamal influence really comes through as Max starts off in lounge mode and then keeps throwing surprise curveballs as the song develops. I searched various top pianist lists for Max’s name but was surprised not to see him, hopefully ‘Whirlwind’ will change that.

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.

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