"HARD BOP: Jazz and Black Music, 1955-1965" by David H. Rosenthal

"HARD BOP: Jazz and Black Music, 1955-1965"

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Lively history by flee-lance jazz-journalist Rosenthal of a brief but important musical era falling between post-Charlie Parker jazz and Stevie Wonder-style tunes. Today, Rosenthal explains, hard bop is heard only in revivals as the neo-bop fabrication of feelings of another era. But as musician Henry Threadgill complains: ""For the first time in the history of jazz, many young artists have become virtuosos of styles that have passed....Are we so nostalgic that we need virtuosos of the graveyard?"" Bop grew out of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Bud Powell, elided into its second generation (and perhaps its finest flower) with effervescent, feelingful trumpeter Clifford Brown. Where classic bop had bubbled with ebullience, Rosenthal says, hard bop sprang from a cooler, more laid-back yet hard-swinging spirit, as exemplified by Miles Davis's seminal ""Bags' Groove."" Davis had come into being with Parker, with a modest middle-range style of which Rosenthal does not think highly. It was only after a four-year bout with heroin that Davis returned with his ringingly inventive major style, the biting but full-toned phrasing of pieces like ""Bags' Groove"" and ""Cookin'"" and with synergies drawn from working with the emerging John Coltrane. Hard bop's most tragic figure is best seen, going by Rosenthal, in trumpeter Lee Morgan, who began recording with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers when only 18, winnowed an overactive style down to notes well weighed, worked up ""a timbre that seemed to convey a mixture of bitter irony and sorrow,"" and then, in 1980, was shot dead at age 30 by his spurned mistress at a jazz club on N.Y.C.'s Lower East Side. And at that point, hard bop and the milieu that buoyed it up--""ghetto life with jazz at its center""--vanished under Motown, soul, and ""concept albums."" An original and compelling assessment.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0195085566
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press