Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from K-O


playing blue music tenor

Hard bop is sometimes referred to as a reaction to cool jazz, since white musicians dominated cool in Los Angeles, while primarily black musicians initially performed hard bop in New York. The hard bop supporters felt that cool had de-emphasized the blues too much, and they wanted to put more overt feeling and spontaneity back into the music. Hard bop was also a way for New York to again reign as the center of jazz, wresting control away from Los Angeles.

Hard bop, like cool jazz, was a natural outgrowth of bebop, rather than a radical new approach to playing music. Because it was the first style of jazz to fully take advantage of the LP, hard bop musicians were not restricted to the three minutes of a 78. LPs, which began replacing 78s in 1949 and completely took over the recording industry by the mid-1950s, frequently contained forty minutes of music, twenty minutes to a side. Soloists were therefore able to stretch out and build their improvisations slowly, rather than being forced to express all of their ideas in two choruses. Hard bop featured longer and simpler melody statements, much more freedom for string bassists who sometimes played catchy lines rather than being restricted to four-to-the-bar timekeeping, stronger interaction from the drummers, and generally a bluesier and more soulful approach than classic bebop. Particular emphasis was placed on developing a powerful Page 170  tone, bending notes, infusing the performance with a blues feeling, and being open to the influence of church music while still swinging.

There is not one specific record session that stands out as the beginning of hard bop, although the 1952 and 1953 recordings of Miles Davis, an innovator in so many different styles, exhibit some early examples of the music and included two future hard bop leaders, pianist Horace Silver and drummer Art Blakey.

Classic bebop was largely frozen in time, the second half of the 1940s, but hard bop evolved during the 1950s and 1960s, in time utilizing modal improvising, playing off scales and staying longer on one chord, and more adventurous soloing influenced by the avant-garde. By 1960 hard bop was the modern mainstream of jazz and was even adopted by most of the West Coast jazz players.


A major transitional force between bebop and hard bop was trumpeter Clifford Brown, who fit easily into both styles with his very warm tone. Brown had complete control of his trumpet and could make the most difficult bop lines sound simple. He started playing trumpet in 1945 when he was fifteen and within three years was a professional musician with enormous potential, strongly influenced by Fats Navarro. Brown attended Maryland State University but was knocked out of action for most of a year after being seriously hurt in a car accident in June 1950. After he recovered he worked with Chris Powell’s r&b band, the Blue Flames, in 1952 and then was ready to burst upon the jazz scene. In 1953 Brown worked and recorded with Tadd Dameron, made his first recordings as a leader, starred on sessions with altoist Lou Donaldson and trombonist J. J. Johnson, and played with Lionel Hampton’s big band during the second half of the year. During a European tour, Hampton for unknown reasons forbade his sidemen to record, but most did anyway, resulting in the breakup of the band. Brown led dates with a quartet, sextet, and a big band while overseas, displaying his warmth on ballads and his creative imagination on up-tempo pieces.

Back in the United States, Brown appeared at New York’s Birdland as part of a quintet headed by Art Blakey and featuring Donaldson, Horace Silver, and bassist Curly Russell. This engagement was extensively recorded and features Brownie in superb form. It also sounds as if Blakey were preparing to form his Jazz Messengers, though the trumpeter was never actually part of that group. In Los Angeles that summer, Brown did some local work and then formed a quintet that was co-led by drummer Max Roach. The band, whose personnel soon solidified around tenor-saxophonist Harold Land, bassist George Morrow, and pianist Richie Powell (Bud Powell’s younger brother), became Brown’s main association during what would be his final two years. The group, which recorded regularly for Emarcy, helped define the era, featuring originals including Brown’s “Joy Spring” and “Daahoud” and spirited versions of bop standards. Brown also recorded a well-received album with strings.

When Land had to drop out of the group due to family problems in late 1955, he was replaced by Sonny Rollins, whose presence made the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet into a true super group. Brown, who lived cleanly, was an inspiration to Rollins, who successfully kicked drugs, as was his musical consistency and brilliant playing. It all came to an end during the early morning hours of June 26, 1956. After playing at a recorded jam session in Philadelphia, Brown was riding in a car driven by the near-sighted wife of Richie Powell during a rainstorm when he was killed in a crash. In addition to pianist Powell and his wife, Clifford Brown, who was just twenty-five, died instantly.

After his death, Brown became the main influence on several generations of younger trumpeters including Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, and Woody Shaw. Despite the passing of nearly a half century, Clifford Brown’s playing has yet to be improved upon.


Horace Silver has been very important as a bandleader, songwriter, and the first soul jazz pianist. In 1951 he was part of a rhythm section that backed Stan Getz at a concert in Hartford, Connecticut. Getz was so impressed that he used the rhythm section for a year. After that, Silver worked in New York with Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, and Oscar Pettiford, recording with Lou Donaldson and Miles Davis. Evolving from a bop-oriented pianist, Silver developed his own bluesy approach, often sounding as if he were bending notes, which is impossible on the piano. As early as 1952, he was writing such catchy originals as “Opus de Funk,” and “Ecaroh,” his name backwards. After co-leading the Jazz Messengers during 1954 to 1956, he took the group, except Blakey, and formed the Horace Silver Quintet. For the first few years, the personnel changed but the Silver quintet sound was emerging. He debuted “Home Cookin’” and had a hit with “Senor Blues.” From 1959 to 1964 Silver led the most famous version of his quintet, featuring trumpeter Blue Mitchell, tenor Junior Cook, bassist Gene Taylor, and either Louis Hayes or Roy Brooks on drums. Among the songs he introduced during this period were “Come on Home,” “Cookin’ at the Continental,” “Sister Sadie,” “Filthy McNasty,” and “Tokyo Blues.”

In 1964 Blue Mitchell did the same thing to Silver that the pianist had done to Art Blakey eight years earlier, forming his own band from the group but excluding the leader. Silver quickly formed a new quintet that included trumpeter Carmell Jones, tenor-saxophonist Joe Henderson, bassist Teddy Smith, and drummer Roger Humphries, recording his biggest hit, “Song for My Father.” Silver continued leading similar groups through the 1970s with such sidemen as trumpeters Woody Shaw, Charles Tolliver, Randy Brecker, and Tom Harrell; altoist-flutist James Spaulding; and tenors Stanley Turrentine, Bennie Maupin, Michael Brecker, and Bob Berg. Since that time he has generally had a lower profile, occasionally leading groups on tours, writing lyrics, running his own record label, and being involved in self-help projects.


Soul jazz began with the funky piano style of Horace Silver, who was soon joined by Bobby Timmons, Junior Mance, Les McCann, Ramsey Lewis, and Gene Harris, who led the Three Sounds. When organists began to play groove music as opposed to bebop, soul jazz really took off, becoming popular in small black clubs and bars. Soul jazz often emphasizes the catchy bass lines, with the bluesy solos being influenced even more by gospel music and r&b than hard bop.

Although the organ had rarely been used in jazz before the mid-1950s, most notably Fats Waller’s pipe organ solos in the 1920s and the 1950s’ jazz-oriented r&b by Wild Bill Davis and Bill Doggett, it caught on when Jimmy Smith exploded on the scene in 1955. Smith had actually been working on developing his technique for four years in Philadelphia before he was discovered, transferring the ideas of Charlie Parker and Bud Powell to the bulky instrument while infusing it with his own brand of soul.

Jimmy Smith recorded twenty-five albums for the Blue Note label during 1956 to 1960, establishing his reputation as the first significant player on the Hammond B-3 organ and becoming a force that still dominates today. Smith could swing as hard on his instrument as Oscar Peterson did on piano and could hold his own with the best young soloists, including trumpeter Lee Morgan, altoist Lou Donaldson, and tenor-saxophonist Stanley Turrentine. His work on foot pedals made the inclusion of a string bass unnecessary. Because of his success, many groups comprising organ, guitar, drums, and sometimes tenor sax formed in the late 1950s.

Jimmy Smith was just one of many organists who spent their formative years in Philadelphia. Others included Jimmy McGriff, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Charles Earland, Joey DeFrancesco in recent times, and Shirley Scott, who was married to Stanley Turrentine. The organ was very popular in that city during the 1950s and 1960s, and even those organists who did not spend extensive time in Philadelphia had opportunities to play occasional engagements there, including Brother Jack McDuff from Chicago, Don Patterson from Columbus, Ohio, Big John Patton from Kansas City, Johnny “Hammond” Smith from Cleveland, and Dr. Lonnie Smith from Richmond, Virginia.

Jimmy Smith, whose jam session albums and dates with his trio were succeeded in the mid-1960s by his encounters with big bands, mostly stuck to hard bop in his career. The organists who followed him generally played blues, ballads, swinging pieces, and groove music, with the latter often being lengthy one-chord jams. There were dozens of organ records released by the mid-1960s. In general the organists’ careers followed similar paths: they gained prominence in the early to mid-1960s and started out playing straight-ahead material. As the 1960s progressed, their music became simpler and more commercial. After most of these organists experimented with electric keyboards in the 1970s as the organ became less popular, they fell into obscurity. Those that survived made a comeback by the mid-1980s, returning to their original brand of soul jazz/hard bop.

One organist, Larry Young, grew away from the Jimmy Smith influence and developed his own independent voice, playing post-bop, avant-garde jazz, and fusion. In the early 1960s he sounded a bit like Smith, but by the time he recorded Unity , a quartet album with trumpeter Woody Shaw, tenor-saxophonist Joe Henderson, and drummer Elvin Jones, Young had an original style. He became an important force in early fusion music, playing with Tony Williams’ Lifetime in the early 1970s, before passing away prematurely in 1978 when he was thirty-seven.


Of the labels that documented hard bop and soul jazz, none were as significant or as consistent as Blue Note. Swing had been recorded by Columbia, Decca, and Victor (major record companies), whereas bebop had initially been documented by Guild, National, Dial, the relatively larger Savoy, and other tiny labels before the bigger companies caught on. Hard bop’s main champions were Blue Note’s Alfred Lion and Francis Wolf.

Childhood friends in Germany, they fled the Nazi regime with Lion arriving in the United States in 1938, Wolff following about a year later. Alfred Lion founded Blue Note at the beginning of 1939, recording boogie-woogie pianists Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis on the first session. During 1939 to 1941, Blue Note mostly released records by swing and New Orleans players, including Earl Hines, clarinetist Edmond Hall, and Sidney Bechet, who had a hit with his version of “Summertime.” After Lion served in the military, Blue Note was reactivated in late 1943. With the rise of bebop, Lion and Wolff took a year off to investigate the music, and in 1947 Blue Note recorded important sessions by Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, and Fats Navarro.

By 1955 Blue Note was very much involved in hard bop, and through the years recorded the most important albums of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Horace Silver, and Jimmy Smith. Unlike most other record companies, Blue Note paid musicians to rehearse, and they encouraged the recording of new original music. Musicians were urged to be themselves and sound original rather than merely copying the current trends. During 1955 to 1966, Blue Note documented one classic set after another by such additional artists as trumpeters Kenny Dorham, Lee Morgan, Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard, and Blue Mitchell; trombonist Curtis Fuller; altoist Jackie McLean; tenors Dexter Gordon, Hank Mobley, Joe Henderson, Stanley Turrentine, and Wayne Shorter; pianists Herbie Hancock, Gene Harris, Duke Pearson, and Herbie Nichols; and guitarists Grant Green and Kenny Burrell; plus avant-gardists Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Andrew Hill, and Sam Rivers.

When Alfred Lion sold Blue Note to Liberty in 1966, it was the beginning of the end for the classic label. By then Blue Note was doing well with danceable boogaloo sessions such as Lee Morgan’s The Sidewinder and soul jazz dates, but the new owners were less interested in the more creative projects. During 1967 to 1969 the label’s output gradually declined, and by the early 1970s, Blue Note was concentrating mostly on commercial funk sessions. By the time Horace Silver, the last of the original artists, departed in 1980, Blue Note, which had just been purchased by EMI, was dead. Surprisingly five years later it was revived by its new president, Bruce Lundvall, reissuing older classics and recording newer artists. Although it is not as consistent as Alfred Lion’s original company, Blue Note has once again become a significant jazz label that also records other music.


Like that of Miles Davis, arranger Gil Evans’ music was very much beyond any specific category. He led his own band in California in the 1930s and gained recognition for his arrangements for Claude Thornhill’s orchestra during 1942 and 1946 to 1948. Evans enjoyed utilizing French horns and a tuba as frontline instruments in the ensembles, and he was open to bebop. After meeting Miles Davis, he did some writing for the trumpeter’s “Birth of the Cool” nonet during 1948, including “Moon Dreams” and “Boplicity.” Evans was a bit of a recluse during the first half of the 1950s, but after writing inventive charts for a session by singer Helen Merrill, he had a reunion with Miles Davis. They collaborated on three major album-length projects: Miles Ahead in 1957, Porgy and Bess in 1958, and Sketches of Spain in 1960. Evans’ big band inspired Davis to play some of his warmest solos throughout these classic sets. Evans, who was the trumpeter’s best friend, would also be an influential force behind the scenes in some of Davis’ musical developments into the 1970s.

While his projects with Miles Davis put the focus completely on Davis, Evans also led some colorful albums of his own during the second half of the 1950s, utilizing unusual blends of reeds and brass that sometimes added a bassoon to a French horn and tuba and featured such soloists as soprano-saxophonist Steve Lacy, Cannonball Adderley, and trumpeter Johnny Coles. In the 1960s Evans was less active but wrote for sessions featuring guitarist Kenny Burrell and singer Astrud Gilberto. Starting in 1969, he returned to the scene fulltime, blending electronic and acoustic instruments quite expertly on a few studio sets and leading his big band once a week in New York clubs. His personnel included top players from post-bop, the avant-garde, and r&b-oriented jazz, which he featured in an electrified setting that the musicians found quite stimulating. Gil Evans was one of the most respected arrangers on the scene until his death in 1988.


Born in 1926 John Coltrane originally played alto sax. His earliest recordings are some private sides made while he was in the navy in 1946. After his discharge, he picked up experience playing with King Kolax, the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band in 1948 and 1949, Gillespie’s sextet, Earl Bostic, Johnny Hodges, and Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, during which time he switched to the tenor. In 1955 Coltrane was still virtually unknown when Miles Davis recognized the potential in the tenor’s sound and searching style and hired him for his new quintet. Although he did not sound quite ready for the big time at first, Coltrane developed quickly, and by 1956 he was becoming a major voice on his instrument.

Influenced in tone in the early days by Dexter Gordon, but sounding original by the time he joined Davis, Coltrane became a master at dissecting chord changes. Rather than concentrating on individual notes, his solos were waves of passion that writer Ira Gitler termed “sheets of sound.” Coltrane’s drug use prompted Miles Davis to fire him early in 1957, but within a few months he quit all of his bad habits, a move that accelerated his musical evolution. He spent the summer as a member of the Thelonious Monk Quartet, playing nightly at the Five Spot in New York and learning a great deal from the unique pianist-composer. In 1958 ‘Trane rejoined Davis and was part of the trumpeter’s classic sextet that recorded Kind of Blue the following year.

From 1956 to 1959, Coltrane appeared on many hard bop jam session-style record dates, teaming up with many of the top young players of the era. His increasingly lengthy solos were original and way ahead of his time. Coltrane’s lone album for Blue Note, the 1957 Blue Train , is a classic with Lee Morgan and Curtis Fuller, while his 1959 album Giant Steps was quite innovative. The title cut from Giant Steps finds Coltrane bringing bebop and chordal improvisation to its logical extreme, with the chords usually changing every two beats, requiring the listener to really study the song before attempting to come up with an original statement.

In the summer of 1960, John Coltrane left Davis to form his own group. He would make history during the next seven years.


Altoist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley was originally uncertain about making a career as a fulltime musician. He was working as a school band director in Florida in 1955 when he and his younger brother, cornetist Nat Adderley, visited New York during his summer vacation. They were in the audience at the Café Bohemia watching Oscar Pettiford’s group play when they were asked to sit in. Cannonball’s exuberant playing on “I Remember April” made the audience, which happened to include altoists Jackie McLean and Phil Woods, immediately realize that a new giant was on the scene. Within a few days the Adderleys were recording for Savoy and working towards forming their first quintet.

Although the first Cannonball Adderley Quintet never caught on and broke up after two years, it created some strong bop-oriented music. The problem was that Adderley’s name was not known beyond New York, and their group had nothing that original to say, yet. Cannonball joined Miles Davis while Nat Adderley played with J. J. Johnson and Woody Herman. Cannonball recorded several notable albums as a leader for the Riverside label, and his association with Davis gave him some fame.

In October 1959 Cannonball Adderley tried again, this time with his brother, pianist Bobby Timmons, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Louis Hayes in his new quintet. The key element in the early group was Timmons, a talented songwriter whose “This Here” became a funky soul jazz hit and launched the band. Cannonball, whose style was exuberant, as opposed to the more serious sounding modern players of the era, was also quite articulate, enjoying talking to the audience and explaining the music his band played. Mixing together aspects of the styles of Charlie Parker and Benny Carter while Nat hinted at Miles Davis, Cannonball recorded a series of exciting hard bop sets for Riverside during the early 1960s. Among the songs that his band made famous were Nat’s “Work Song” and “Jive Samba,” Duke Pearson’s “Jeannine,” Sam Jones’ “Del Sasser,” and Timmons’ follow-up to “This Here” that he called “Dat Dere.”

The finest Adderley band was the 1962 and 1963 sextet with Nat Adderley, Jones, Hayes, pianist Joe Zawinul, and the versatile Yusef Lateef on tenor, flute, and oboe. After Charles Lloyd took Lateef’s place on tenor and flute during 1964, the group reverted to being a quintet. By then the Riverside label had gone bankrupt, and Adderley signed with Capitol. His recordings became more commercial after his hit with Zawinul’s “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” veering towards funk by the late 1960s. In the early 1970s, Adderley was utilizing George Duke on electric keyboards and playing relatively little himself. Things looked up after he switched to the Fantasy label in 1973, getting an opportunity to revisit the repertoire of his earlier days and showing that he could still play quite well. Unfortunately Cannonball Adderley died of a heart attack in 1975 when he was just forty-six. A heartbroken Nat Adderley continued, leading similar soulful hard bop groups until his own death twenty-five years later. Cannonball Adderley’s joyful sound and rambunctious style remain strong influences on many of the altoists of today.


In the 1950s Sonny Rollins emerged, with John Coltrane, as the top young tenor saxophonist. Unlike the cool school players who looked towards Lester Young, Rollins was originally influenced by Coleman Hawkins. Rollins developed a discrete tone, adventurous style, and wit to form an influential approach of his own. As did Thelonious Monk, he often built his ideas off of the melody rather than just the chord structure.

Having made his recording debut in 1948 when he was eighteen, the next year he held his own on a record date with Fats Navarro and Bud Powell. Miles Davis was a champion of his, using him on records in 1951 and originally hoping that Rollins would be a member of his 1955 quintet. By then the young tenor had worked with Thelonious Monk, introduced such originals, and later jazz standards, as “Airegin,” “Oleo,” and “Doxy,” led several of his own record dates, and retired for the first time, to quit drugs and get his health together. When he returned in late 1955, he became a member of the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet, staying with the group for a year after Brownie’s tragic death. As a leader, Rollins recorded one memorable set after another from 1956 to 1959 for the Prestige, Blue Note, Contemporary, and Riverside labels, making the calypso “St. Thomas” famous and having a famous engagement at the Village Vanguard, accompanied only by bass and drums. Rollins had the ability to take marathon solos without ever losing the interest of listeners. He also enjoyed exploring unlikely material including “I’m an Old Cowhand,” “Toot, Toot Tootsie,” and "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Me

It was a major surprise to the jazz world in 1959 when Rollins decided to retire from playing; he was still only twenty-eight. This caused much speculation, but he simply wanted time off to practice, relax, and recharge his batteries. He was spotted on a few occasions playing late at night on New York’s Williamsburg Bridge, but otherwise not much was heard from Rollins until he returned to jazz in early 1962. At first his playing, in a pianoless quartet with guitarist Jim Hall, was largely unchanged from 1959, but soon he was exploring freer improvising, being intrigued by Ornette Coleman’s music and using Coleman’s sidemen, cornetist Don Cherry and drummer Billy Higgins, in his band during part of 1962 and 1963. Rollins’ solos became increasingly eccentric during this era, as can be heard on his RCA recordings, which probably surprised his veteran fans. His Impulse albums of 1965 and 1966, while still being adventurous, were more tightly focused as Rollins more smoothly incorporated elements of the avant-garde into his style. In 1966 the thirty-six-year-old tenor decided to retire for the third time. This time he was off the scene for six years. When he returned in 1972, Rollins signed with the Milestone label that he still continues with and opened his music to the influences of rock and r&b. His tone became grittier, and sometimes his repertoire and his sidemen were not quite worthy of him, but Rollins has never stopped being an exciting performer, one whose go-for-broke improvising onstage, particularly when he explores standards and calypsos, continues to justify his reputation as one of jazz’s true giants.


The piano playing of Bill Evans is difficult to classify: it could be considered anything from cool jazz to post-bop. Since he had a major impact in the 1950s and 1960s, and is still considered the prime influence on quite a few acoustic pianists, he fits well into this section.

Evans moved the jazz piano beyond Bud Powell. His complex yet subtle chord voicings were quickly emulated, as was his close interplay with his bassist and drummer. Evans always utilized bassists who were free to comment musically on what he was playing, as were his drummers. Unlike most piano trios where the pianist was dominant, Evans’ groups matched him with near equals. After gaining experience with a variety of groups and serving in the army, in 1956 Evans moved to New York. He began leading record dates for Riverside and developing his approach to trios. Having impressed Miles Davis, Evans became a part of his sextet for much of 1958, returning to record most of the Kind of Blue album the following year. His impressionistic approach greatly appealed to Davis, who was reluctant to see him go out on his own.

From 1959 to 1961, Evans had a classic trio with bassist Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian. LaFaro was developing into a major soloist, but his life was tragically cut short by a car accident. After a period off the scene, Evans returned to leading trios, featuring Eddie Gomez as his bassist from 1966 to 1977 and becoming one of the more popular jazz artists of the 1960s. He became famous for his interpretations of ballads, although Evans could play quite heatedly when inspired. His final group, a trio with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joe LaBarbera, was one of his finest. If anything, the influence of Bill Evans, who passed away in 1980, has grown since his death.


Charlie Parker’s dominant influence was felt in the playing of all the hard bop and soul jazz altoists to various degrees, but the best altoists of the era were able to develop their own individual voices, such as Cannonball Adderley. Jackie McLean and Lou Donaldson were both strongly touched by Bird but then evolved into different directions.

Jackie McLean always plays with great intensity, using a slightly sharp tone. At nineteen he made his recording debut in 1951 with Miles Davis. He appeared on many jam session-style records in the 1950s, as a leader and as a sideman for the Prestige label. After being a member of the Jazz Messengers during 1956 to 1958, he signed with the Blue Note label, recording twenty-one albums as a leader in the next nine years. Although initially a hard bop player, McLean was open to the newer innovations of the 1960s, and on some of his albums, including One Step Beyond and Destination Out , he’s playing quite freely in a manner not that far from the free jazz of Ornette Coleman. McLean’s sound became much more expressive and explosive, with honks, screams, and squeals as part of his musical vocabulary, but he always remained quite capable of playing swinging hard bop too. When his period on Blue Note ended in 1967, McLean became involved in jazz education, inspiring many younger saxophonists with his own example. He remains active, never playing an uninspired chorus or a phrase lacking his intense passion.

Lou Donaldson, like McLean, was initially strongly influenced by Charlie Parker, but he created a soulful style that is more blues-based, melodic, and accessible. His records from the second half of the 1950s are bop-oriented, but due to their soulful tone, Donaldson’s recordings became particularly popular on jukeboxes. He added a conga player to his band in 1959 and in 1961 replaced his pianist with an organist, making his music lean more towards soul jazz. By 1967 when he recorded Alligator Boogaloo , Donaldson’s music was emphasizing funky grooves and catchy melodies; subsequent recordings from the 1960s were aimed at the commercial market, filled with weak and basic material in hopes of increasing his record sales. Donaldson also watered down his sound by often playing an electronic baritone sax, which robbed his playing of his individuality. By the early 1980s, the “real” Lou Donaldson returned, and since then he has played the bop, blues, and ballads that he most enjoys.

Phil Woods began with Charlie Parker-style bebop, graduated to hard bop, made a countless number of sessions, and since 1973 has led quintets that have invigorated the bop tradition with fresh material and inspired solos. Charles McPherson has also kept the Charlie Parker sound alive, whether playing with Charles Mingus or his own groups. In contrast Hank Crawford has consistently been one of the leading alto voices in soul jazz and r&b-oriented jazz. Although fully capable of playing hard bop, Crawford prefers to wrap his very distinctive soulful sound around warm melodies. He worked with Ray Charles during 1958 to 1963 and has had a vital solo career on records since 1960, being an influence and an inspiration to such later soulful saxophonists as David Sanborn and Grover Washington Jr.


Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, and Ben Webster, the major tenors of the swing era, were equaled in impact, influence, and innovations by Dexter Gordon during the bop era and John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins in the 1950s. Many other talented tenor players rose to prominence during this period too.

In some ways Hank Mobley was the definitive hard bop tenor saxophonist. Mobley had the right sound, middle-of-the-road rather than harsh or soft. He worked with Max Roach during 1951 to 1953, Dizzy Gillespie in 1954, and was an original member of both the Jazz Messengers and the Horace Silver Quintet. He also had a less happy association with Miles Davis in 1961 and 1962. Although Mobley did not lead any significant groups of his own in clubs, his long series of recordings as both a sideman and a leader, including twenty-five dates that he headed for Blue Note during 1956 to 1970, included quite a few gems and consistently rewarding playing by both the tenor and the many all-star sidemen. Unfortunately the demise of Blue Note and Mobley’s own drug addiction ultimately cut short his career. After a recording with pianist Cedar Walton in 1972, Mobley dropped out of the jazz scene and lived in obscurity for the fourteen years until his death in 1986 at age fifty-five.

Benny Golson, a fine tenor saxophonist initially influenced by Don Byas and Lucky Thompson, became most significant as an arranger-composer. He always had the ability to write catchy melodies while utilizing complex chord changes. The results were songs that listeners remembered and that challenged musicians. Among his best-known tunes are “Killer Joe,” “Whisper Not,” “Blues March,” and “I Remember Clifford,” a tribute to Clifford Brown. As a player Golson worked with some early r&b groups, Tadd Dameron, Lionel Hampton, and Johnny Hodges before playing with the Dizzy Gillespie big band from 1956 to 1958. He was an important force in helping Art Blakey establish the Jazz Messengers during his period in the band in 1958 and 1959 before co-leading the Jazztet with Art Farmer for four years. Golson worked primarily as an arranger in the studios for fifteen years before re-emerging in the 1980s as a more modern soloist who was still in his musical prime. He has since played Page 187  with Art Blakey tribute bands, a Jazztet reunion group, and most often as the head of a quartet.

When it came to soul jazz, few tenors were consistently more soulful than Stanley Turrentine, whose tone on tenor was as distinctive as Hank Crawford’s on alto, no matter what the setting. “Mr. T.” worked early on with r&b groups, gained some recognition for his playing with Max Roach during 1959 and 1960, married organist Shirley Scott, with whom he often worked, and recorded often for Blue Note in the 1960s. Whether gigging with organist Jimmy Smith, jamming with a quartet or being backed by a big band, Turrentine was very consistent, accessible, and creative within the soul jazz idiom. In the early 1970s Turrentine had his greatest success while associated with the CTI label, recording his hit “Sugar” and holding his own with Freddie Hubbard. He remained a popular figure up until the time of his death in 2000 at the age of sixty-six.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk was one of the most amazing musicians of all time. He could play any reed instrument in any style ranging from New Orleans jazz and bop to free-form and soul jazz. Kirk could play three saxophones at once, with two independent lines, functioning as his own horn section. He also mastered circular breathing so he could create a twenty-minute solo in one breath. He had to be seen to be fully believed, and even then much of what he played seemed impossible. Blind from the age of two, Kirk played several instruments before settling on tenor as his main horn, working in r&b bands when he was fifteen. He discovered two ancient instruments, the manzello, which is similar to a soprano sax, and the stritch, a straight alto, learning to play them at the same time as the tenor. In time he added flute, clarinet, reed trumpet, and a variety of other miscellaneous instruments. Kirk first recorded in 1956 and then really started making an impression in the early 1960s. While some critics and musicians wrote him off as being gimmicky, that was because they did not listen closely to what Rahsaan was doing, and they could not deal with the impossible feats he was accomplishing. He could do close impressions of everyone from John Coltrane to clarinetist Barney Bigard while still sounding like himself. A few videos and the double-CD Bright Moments show how Rahsaan sounded live in concert while his other recordings focus on various aspects of his artistry. Only a serious stroke in 1976 that resulted in his death the following year stopped this magical musical man.

Of the other tenor saxophonists, Booker Ervin played with intense soul, often in adventurous settings including with Charles Mingus. Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and Johnny Griffin led a competitive and fiery two-tenor quintet from 1960 to 1962 in addition to having productive solo careers. Jimmy Heath, a survivor of the bebop era, developed not only as a tenor saxophonist but on flute, soprano, and as an arranger, cutting six superior albums for the Riverside label from 1959 to 1964. Yusef Lateef, in addition to his excellent tenor playing, became one of the top flutists in jazz in the 1950s and introduced to jazz such instruments as the oboe and a variation called the shanai, exotic percussion instruments from other countries, and the argol, a double-reed clarinet sounding a bit like a bassoon. Page 188  Lateef mastered jazz, a term he never liked, and infused his performances with “World Music” before that idiom had a name. Eddie Harris, who started out as a bop-oriented tenor player, having a hit in the early 1960s with “Exodus,” by the late 1960s was playing creatively on an electric saxophone. He composed the standard “Freedom Jazz Dance,” cut comedy albums in addition to his soul jazz outings, and was a major, although underrated, player up until the time of his death in 1996.

Joe Henderson was a consistently modern hard bop tenor saxophonist who initially became known during 1962 and 1963 for his association with Kenny Dorham. Henderson could play both inside and outside of the chord changes, ranging from standard hard bop to free jazz while always being instantly recognizable. He was very consistent throughout his career, associated with Horace Silver from 1964 to 1966 and Herbie Hancock in 1969 and 1970, and was rediscovered in 1991 and given a lot of publicity due to his series of inventive tribute albums. Henderson passed away in 2001.


Lionel Hampton and Red Norvo originally set the pace for jazz vibraphonists. Milt Jackson became the dominant influence on vibes after emerging during the bebop era and as the key soloist with the Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ). Jackson also had a very active solo recording career, often teamed with all-star groups. Through the years he held his own with John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, Cannonball Adderley, Oscar Peterson, Wes Montgomery, Freddie Hubbard, and the who’s who of straight-ahead jazz. These excursions gave him a change of pace from the tight structures imposed by John Lewis on the music of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Jackson eventually tired of the MJQ and left the band in 1974, causing its demise, but in 1981 he relented and the band became active for a further fifteen years.

Although Jackson was the definitive hard bop vibraphonist, two brilliant new vibists emerged in the 1960s. Gary Burton utilized four mallets that gave him the fluency of a pianist and sometimes made it sound as if he were two players. He started in straight-ahead jazz and country music in the early 1960s and worked with George Shearing and Stan Getz before leading a pioneer fusion group and working in post-bop jazz. Bobby Hutcherson was involved in the more adventurous hard bop sessions of the 1960s, ones influenced by avant-garde jazz. From 1962 to 1967 he recorded on Blue Note with Jackie McLean, Eric Dolphy, Grant Green, Hank Mobley, Herbie Hancock, Andrew Hill, and many others. He co-led a post-bop quintet in the late 1960s with tenor-saxophonist Harold Land. Over time he became more conservative while still being quite virtuosic and individual, remaining a vital force up to the present day.


In addition to the musicians already mentioned, there were many other strong players from this era who are well worth mentioning. Key trombonists Page 193  who followed J. J. Johnson include Jimmy Cleveland and Curtis Fuller, who played with the Jazztet and Art Blakey. The fluent baritone-saxophonist Pepper Adams was a major contrast to Gerry Mulligan and the “cool school” baritonists, in that he had a deep guttural tone, returning the baritone to its lower notes. He co-led a band with Donald Byrd from 1958 to 1962 and worked with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra. Herbie Mann helped popularize the flute, particularly with his Latin jazz recordings of the 1960s and his later pop-oriented efforts. In the 1970s Hubert Laws showed that classical technique need not restrict a jazz flutist’s creative ideas, and his work for CTI ranks with the best recordings of his career. Among the major bassists of the 1950s and 1960s, ones who were inspired by Jimmy Blanton and Oscar Pettiford, were Paul Chambers with Miles Davis and the Wynton Kelly Trio, Sam Jones with Cannonball Adderley, Wilbur Ware, Doug Watkins, and Ron Carter. Significant drummers included Jimmy Cobb who succeeded Jones with Davis, Louis Hayes, veterans Buddy Rich and Louie Bellson, Roy Haynes, Max Roach, Art Blakey, and Philly Joe Jones, particularly when he was with Miles Davis.

Although there were not a lot of singers associated with hard bop or soul jazz, a few new vocalists emerged during this period. Carmen McRae caught on in the mid-1950s. Her behind-the-beat phrasing, ability to improvise, and ironic sense of humor made her a favorite for decades. Abbey Lincoln, an underrated songwriter, was an actress and a strong hard bop singer, as shown on a trio of late 1950s records, before marrying Max Roach and becoming involved in some political civil rights recordings. She has recorded many albums during the past five decades. Shirley Horn, a fine pianist and a masterful interpreter of ballads, made her initial impact in the early 1960s choosing to perform mostly in Washington, DC, for many years while raising her daughter. In the 1980s Horn gained a high profile when she was signed to Verve and traveled throughout the United States. Many younger singers have been influenced by Horn’s phrasing. Among male singers, Johnny Hartman became famous for his warm voice and the way he treated ballads. His 1963 album, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman , is considered one of the most romantic jazz recordings.

Of the fulltime groups that caught on in jazz in the 1960s, the Jazz Crusaders made an impact. Originally formed in 1954 as the Swingsters by Houston schoolmates—pianist Joe Sample, tenor-saxophonist Wilton Felder, trombonist Wayne Henderson, drummer Stix Hooper, flutist Hubert Laws, and bassist Henry Wilson—they were soon known as the Modern Jazz Sextet. In 1960 Sample, Felder, Hooper, and Henderson moved to Los Angeles and, using different bassists, adopted the Jazz Crusaders as their new name. They were signed by Pacific Jazz and recorded regularly in the 1960s, performing their own brand of hard bop and soul jazz, music that also included some r&b and Memphis soul. In 1970 they changed the name of the group to the Crusaders, feeling that the word “jazz” limited their commercial potential and their music. Adding several guitars, including Larry Carlton as a soloist, the Crusaders had success for another decade in pop/jazz, even having the hit “Street Life” in 1979 after Page 194  Henderson had departed to become a producer. The group broke up in the mid-1980s but has had several reunions since.


During the 1960s hard bop gradually became more complex as many of its soloists showed their awareness of the free jazz movement’s developments. Soul jazz, in contrast, often became simpler, focusing on danceable grooves, repetition, and soulful solos.

When Blue Note was sold to Liberty in 1966 and then gradually declined during the next five years, hard bop lost its main outlet. The rise of rock greatly cut into hard bop’s record sales, as did the beginnings of fusion. By the early 1970s, hard bop was considered passé, a historical influence but no longer a contemporary style. The same fate hit soul jazz within a few years. Its subtleties were replaced by a more obvious funk beat, as record executives sought to record music that would appeal to a larger dancing audience. By the early 1970s, fusion was overshadowing soul jazz, and by the time disco took over, soul jazz was largely extinct.

Both hard bop and soul jazz made comebacks in the 1980s that have continued. When two brothers, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and tenor-saxophonist Branford Marsalis, became the unofficial leaders of the Young Lions movement, the music that they and their contemporaries explored was often hard bop of the 1960s, along with the more modern playing of the Miles Davis Quintet of that era. Straight-ahead jazz made a comeback among younger players who sought to follow in the footsteps of such giants as Lee Morgan, Hank Mobley, and Jackie McLean. After a period of being eclipsed by electric keyboards, the organ returned, thanks largely to the rise in prominence of Joey DeFrancesco, a young high-energy player influenced by Jimmy Smith. The rise of rap and the use of sampling revived the careers of some of the soul jazz survivors, since their funky music was considered quite suitable as background music at dance clubs.

Hard bop and soul jazz are again being played on a regular basis by younger musicians, taking their place next to Dixieland, swing, and bop as important early styles well worth exploring.


User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or