Posts Tagged ‘Bebop’

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Jazz Styles Family Tree (Post-World War II) Part 1

August 2, 2011

By Devin Grant

Dave Brubeck in 1954.

Dave Brubeck was a key figure in post war jazz music. Image via Wikipedia

At the end of our article Jazz Styles Family Tree (Pre-World War II), we left off in the history of jazz with the Gypsy Jazz (or Jazz Manouche) of Django Reinhardt and the Swing music of such greats as Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. However with many band leaders and members serving in World War II (and some, such as Glenn Miller, losing their lives in the war effort), this period saw the breakup of the “Big Bands”, leaving the field open for smaller groups and a new style of jazz, called Bebop. Led by such jazz legends as Charlie “Bird” Parker and John “Dizzy” Gillespie, this style moved away from the melody-based improvisation seen in most big bands and toward chordal improvisation, the style most readily seen today. In Bebop an artist would be free to explore whatever improvised melody they saw fit, as long as it fit within the chord structure of the piece.

This era also saw the birth of Vocalese, a rather unique style of jazz in which pre-existing melodies, and even solos, would be given lyrics and then sung by artists in the style of the previous instruments. Considered by many to have been invented by Eddie Jefferson, Vocalese did not see much success until more recently, with more well-known artists such as Jon Hendricks and The Manhattan Transfer (who won a Grammy for Best Jazz Fusion Performance for their Vocalese performance of Birdland).

Descending directly from Bebop in the 1950’s was Cool Jazz, also known as West Coast Jazz due to the heavy influence out of the western states, especially California. A mixture of Swing and Bebop, Cool Jazz is most easily recognized for its harmonic tones combined with much more smoothed out dynamics, avoiding the more aggressive styles and tempos of Bebop. Such artists as Lester Young and Miles Davis are considered to have contributed heavily to the feel of Cool Jazz, and many successful recordings have come out of this style, such as The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Time Out”.

While the Cool Jazz style was growing in recognition, some artists wished to recapture both the excitement and the audience of the Hot Jazz and Swing era. An extension of Bebop, Hard Bop filled this need, partially returning to both the Bebop and Hot Jazz of the past while drawing inspiration from Rhythm and Blues and even Gospel to a degree. Hard Bop tunes often had simpler melodies than its Bebop predecessor; with an emphasis on its now more sophisticated rhythm section. Horace Silver and Art Blakey of The Jazz Messengers are well known for their work in Hard Bop, with a prodigious talent for innovation keeping their pieces interesting for the audience. Both Funky Jazz and Gospel Jazz can be seen as natural extensions of Hard Bop.

Moving back to the other end of the spectrum, Cool Jazz had been mixing with the more European sensibilities and styles of South America, and by the time it worked its way up to North America in the 1960’s we had the new style of Bossa Nova. A lighter genre of jazz, even in comparison with that of the West Coast musicians, this “Brazilian Jazz” relied heavily on samba rhythms and acoustic guitar, often with English or Portuguese vocals. Bossa Nova gained popularity as an alternative to the Hard Bop of the time, and also due to the contributions of such artists as Charlie Byrd (Not to be confused with Charlie “Bird” Parker) and Stan Getz.

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Kansas City: The Birthplace of Modern Jazz

March 9, 2010

There are many cities associated with Jazz, yet few have had  as much of an influence upon the genre as Kansas City. Not only is it the birthplace of  Jazz legends, a city where Jazz evolved, and a place where jazz matured.

The history of Jazz in Kansas dates back to the 1920’s but the scene really boomed in the early 1930’s. Kansas had become a crossroad city, with the transcontinental airliners stopping in the city to refuel and a hub of the railroad network being based in city. This led to great growth and drew people from all across the United States, bringing their music, culture and experiences to the city.

Tom Penderagast the man who 'ran' Kansas City

At the time of this great growth  a man named Tom Pendergast was helping fuel the city’s notoriety. Pendergast was the ‘City Manager’ who controlled the city council and due to the immense political power he held ‘ruled’ the city.  His influence extended across all city institutions including the police force. This led the force as whole to turn a blind eye to alcohol and gambling during prohibition. This disregard to prohibition and the all night party scene it created attracted many musicians from across the country. Musicians from the previous Jazz centres of New Orleans and Chicago were attracted by the relaxed nature of the city and the burgeoning musical scene.

The legendary Reno Club in downtown Kansas City

The mixing of musicians made a hotpot of creativity leading to the creation of the city’s own style, ‘Kansas City Jazz‘.  Kansas City Jazz differed from the more traditional forms of the genre that had been played in New Orleans and Chicago previously, creating what was regarded to be a more modern sound. One of the main differences between the styles came in its bar structure. Kansas City Jazz had a heavy blues influence which led it to be played with a 12 bar structure (blues style) as opposed to the traditional jazz 8 bar structure. It also became famous for improvisation and use of solos. Due to the length of the sets at clubs, (in many cases 8-12 hours) songs could go on for hours with a band improvising with frequent and elaborate riffing. The skills and techniques the musicians were acquiring began to really shape the music in the city. This new and innovative form of jazz began to dominate the national scene influencing many musicians from across the country. Kansas City Jazz can also be credited with being the catalyst for the transition from the dominance of big band, by creating swing and then the improvisational style of Bebop.

Photograph of Charlie Paker statue, 'Bird Lives' in Kansas City

Kansas City’s ties to jazz are strengthen as the birth place and home to many key figures in jazz history. The city’s most famous son is probably Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker. Born in August 1920, Parker grew up in a time when Kansas reigned supreme in the world of jazz. Although being too young to be an active participant in the early Kansas scene, Parker was undoubtedly influenced by the music and creativity in the city in his formative years.  After his untimely death in New York in 1955 at the age of just 34 Parker’s body was returned to Kansas City where he was laid to rest in Lincoln Cemetery. Another jazz legend Count Basie spent many years in the city and was one of the major innovators in this new form of music. Basie played regularly with his band at the Reno Club in the 18th district which was home to the city’s jazz scene.

American Jazz Museum

Kansas City today still has many links to its Jazz history. The 18th and Vine District is synonymous with jazz in the city and is home to the American Jazz Museum. The museum houses numerous items from jazz history and has exhibits focusing on key figures in jazz. It also operates the Blue Room and Gem Theatre which hold live performances of jazz. The whole area is also filled with establishments playing and dedicated to jazz and blues music.

The jazz era in Kansas City was effectively ended in 1940 when Tom Pendergast was arrested and subsequently jailed for tax evasion. The political vacuum left was filled by more conservative figures leading to a crackdown on liquor laws and on the jazz clubs of the city. This led to many musicians to leave the city. Kansas City would never recapture this vibrant and creative scene, but in that brief 15 year period the world of jazz and music had been changed forever.

Take a tour of the 18th and Vine Area of Kansas City with Google Street View

Kansas City official Website

American Jazz Museum in Kansas City Website

There are many cities associated with Jazz, yet few have had  as much of an influence upon the genre as Kansas City. Not only is it the birthplace of  Jazz legends, a city where Jazz evolved, and a place where jazz matured.

 

The history of Jazz in Kansas dates back to the 1920’s but the scene really boomed in the early 1930’s. Kansas had become a crossroad city, with the transcontinental airliners stopping in the city to refuel and a hub of the railroad network being based in city. This led to great growth and drew people from all across the United States, bringing their music, culture and experiences to the city.

 

At the time of this great growth  a man named Tom Pendergast was helping fuel the city’s notoriety. Pendergast was the ‘City Manager’ who controlled the city council and due to the immense political power he held ‘ruled’ the city.  His influence extended across all city institutions including the police force. This led the force as whole to turn a blind eye to alcohol and gambling during prohibition. This disregard to prohibition and the all night party scene it created attracted many musicians from across the country. Musicians from the previous Jazz centres of New Orleans and Chicago were attracted by the relaxed nature of the city and the burgeoning musical scene.

 

The mixing of musicians made a hotpot of creativity leading to the creation of the city’s own style, ‘Kansas City Jazz’.  Kansas City Jazz differed from the more traditional forms of the genre that had been played in New Orleans and Chicago previously, creating what was regarded to be a more modern sound. One of the main differences between the styles came in its bar structure. Kansas City

Jazz had a heavy blues influence which led it to be played with a 12 bar structure (blues style) as opposed to the traditional jazz 8 bar structure. It also became famous for improvisation and use of solos. Due to the length of the sets at clubs, (in many cases 8-12 hours) songs could go on for hours with a band improvising with frequent and elaborate riffing. The skills and techniques the musicians were acquiring began to really shape the music in the city. This new and innovative form of jazz began to dominate the national scene influencing many musicians from across the country. Kansas City Jazz can also be credited with being the catalyst for the transition from the dominance of big band, by creating swing and then the improvisational style of Bebop.

 

Kansas City’s ties to jazz are strengthen as the birth place and home to many key figures in jazz history. The city’s most famous son is probably Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker. Born in August 1920, Parker grew up in a time when Kansas reigned supreme in the world of jazz. Although being too young to be an active participant in the early Kansas scene, Parker was undoubtedly influenced by the music and creativity in the city in his formative years.  After his untimely death in New York in 1955 at the age of just 34 Parker’s body was returned to Kansas City where he was laid to rest in Lincoln Cemetery. Another jazz legend Count Basie spent many years in the city and was one of the major innovators in this new form of music. Basie played regularly with his band at the Reno Club in the 18th district which was home to the city’s jazz scene.

 

Kansas City today still has many links to its Jazz history. The 18th and Vine District is synonymous with jazz in the city and is home to the American Jazz Museum. The museum houses numerous items from jazz history and has exhibits focusing on key figures in jazz. It also operates the Blue Room and Gem Theatre which hold live performances of jazz. The whole area is also filled with establishments playing and dedicated to jazz and blues music.

 

The jazz era in Kansas City was effectively ended in 1940 when Tom Pendergast was arrested and subsequently jailed for tax evasion. The political vacuum left was filled by more conservative figures leading to a crackdown on liquor laws and on the jazz clubs of the city. This led to many musicians to leave the city. Kansas City would never recapture this vibrant and creative scene, but in that brief 15 year period the world of jazz and music had been changed forever.

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