Sunday, December 6, 2015

Hard bop

What makes hard bop hard bop and not bebop? Well, it came along after bebop, and maybe it was played a little harder (and a little faster) than bebop at times. But then again, what could be harder and faster than Bird and Diz and Max? Bebop was weird, noisy, and impossibly difficult... avant garde... Cab Calloway called it "Chinese music." Hard bop was funkier, more accessible— bebop mainstreamed, in a way. But mainstream jazz would never again be dance music or popular music. Hard bop was created by the generation who invented bebop, but also by the next generation of youngsters who grew up proclaiming: This is cool, this is what we do now.

Clifford Brown was one of those youngsters, who before his death at age 25 managed to hitch his wagon to one of the transcendent geniuses of American music, Max Roach. Study in Brown is one of their masterful collaborations. Brown is great, Max is Max, but listening tonight, it is that unsung Californian Harold Land who grabs my ear.

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