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date: 24 January 2021

Hard boplocked

  • Kenny Mathieson


A term applied to the earthier music that developed from bebop in the 1950s. Although not a precisely delineated genre, the music is characterized by an elemental, driving urgency inherited from blues, gospel, and rhythm and blues, combined with the harmonic and rhythmic complexity of bebop.

Its practitioners were largely African American, and it thrived in the urban and industrial centers of New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Philadelphia. Initially it formed an integrated part of the culture, heard on juke boxes and in clubs as part of the popular music of the day. It is sometimes described as a reaction to cool or West Coast jazz, but is more accurately seen as a parallel development from common roots.

Hard bop had a heavier, earthier feel than bebop and generally relied on a fairly rigid theme-solos-theme structure and a close adherence to the underlying chord progressions in creating melodic improvisations. The standard instrumentation featured trumpet, tenor saxophone, and a piano-led rhythm trio, although larger line-ups often added trombone or guitar, and the related soul-jazz phenomenon centered on a trio format of Hammond organ, guitar, and drums....

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