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Ch. 10: Cool Jazz

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Bop was a backlash to the highly orchestrated sounds of swing jazz which emphasized structure and arrangement over individual expression. But at the height of the bop era, the desire by some for a more sustained sound with an emphasis on the tonal color of the solo instrument rather than its technical wizardry was beginning to develop. Its seeds were found in the sparse comping chords of Count Basie and in the light sound of big band saxophone player, Lester Young.

Miles Davis

In many of the sessions where Parker, Gillespie, and Monk played was a young trumpeter by the name of Miles Davis. Born in St. Louis, Davis discovered the trumpet at age 13.  Initially, he intended to study classical trumpet in New York City, but hearing Charlie Parker play caused him to change his plans, drop out of school, and follow his idol from gig to gig. Eventually, Parker had Davis sit in with the quintet and when Gillespie left, Parker had Davis take his place.

Davis was not a typical bop trumpeter. Although he attempted the fast and furious solos of Gillespie and others, he often couldn’t handle the fast tempo and unorthodox chord changes. Before too long, Davis was hearing another, as yet unformed, style of jazz, built on tonal shaping and sustained rhythmic elasticity. It was a style which more closely fit his skills.

In 1949 Davis formed his own ensemble, a nine-piece group which included several saxophones and French horns. These two instruments in particular, were capable of creating rich, reserved, low-volume sustained chords, over which Davis could weave a floating ribbon of sound. Davis hired an arranger, Gil Evans, who had studied classical composition as well as the works of Ellington, to write highly textured songs for the ensemble. Evans, who actually conducted the ensemble in recordings the same way a studio orchestra would be conducted, gave Davis the complex harmonic pad that allowed him to shape the melodic line. The record, entitled Birth of the Cool, was a milestone in jazz evolution.

Davis’ Birth of the Cool was in some ways closer to classical impressionist composer, Claude Debussy, than it was to the “bop-bastic” sounds of Charlie Parker. In its wake, other musicians such as saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, trumpet player Chet Baker, blind pianist Lennie Tristano, and composer Claude Thornhill all crafted their own brand of cool jazz, mostly based on the West Coast.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet took cool and infused elements of “old school” classical technique to craft a sound that blended cool and hip. Performing almost nonstop for 16 years, they became the most successful small group in jazz history, selling millions of records, and playing to sold out concerts, many on college campuses throughout the United States.

The common elements of cool jazz were the ever present, carefully crafted charts filled with sustained chords for rich brass and wind sections; the light playing by the rhythm section; and the elongated, sensuous, velvety solo line which floated in and out with irregularity. Cool jazz was a deliberate turning away from the spontaneity and excitement that was bop towards a more reserved, austere sound, seemingly devoid of emotions. And yet at it’s own level, the emotional intensity was preserved.

Apart from the success of Dave Brubeck and the Modern Jazz Quartet, cool jazz in its first manifestation was short lived. By the mid-1950’s, cool jazz was being set aside, only later to resurface as an influence in both third stream and new age jazz.

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Study Units

An Overview

Ch. 1: Understanding Pitch

Ch. 2: Understanding Musical Pulse

Ch. 3: Understanding Volume

Ch. 4: Understanding Tone

Ch. 5: Understanding Melody

Ch. 6: Understanding Harmony

Ch. 7: Understanding Rhythm

Ch. 8: Understanding Bass

Ch. 9: Understanding Countermelody

Ch. 10: Understanding Structure

Ch. 11: Understanding Instrumentation

Ch. 12: Understanding Tempo

An Overview

Ch. 1: 19th Century: Pre-Foster

Ch. 2: Folk Music by the People

Ch. 3: Popular Music in its Infancy

Ch. 4: Stephen Foster – “Father of American Popular Music”

Ch. 5: The Importance of Stephen Foster

Ch. 6: Scott Joplin – “King of Ragtime”

Ch. 7: The Player Piano – Automated Music

Ch. 8: John Philip Sousa – “The March King”

Ch. 9: John Philip Sousa – Recording Artist and Activist

An Overview

Ch. 1: John Lomax – Recording American Roots Music

Ch. 2: Woody Guthrie – “Father of Modern American Folk Music”

Ch. 3: Leadbelly & Pete Seeger: End of the First Wave

Ch. 4: The Kingston Trio – Beginning of the Second Wave

Ch. 5: Joan Baez – “First Lady of Folk Music”

Ch. 6: Peter, Paul & Mary – Balancing the Message

Ch. 7: Robert Zimmerman – The Beginning of an American Icon

Ch. 8: Dylan in New York City

Ch. 9: Dylan after Newport

Ch. 10: The Importance of Dylan

Ch. 11: Folk Music in the 21st Century

An Overview

Ch. 1: The Roots of Country

Ch. 2: Bristol Beginnings

Ch. 3: The Grand Ole Opry

Ch. 4: Cowboys and the Movies

Ch. 5: Western Swing

Ch. 6: Bluegrass: Hillbilly on Caffeine

Ch. 7: Honky-tonk: Merging Two into One

Ch. 8: The Nashville Sound: Country-Pop

Ch. 9: Rockabilly – Country meets R&B

Ch. 10: Country Feminists Find Their Voice

Ch. 11: The Bakersfield Sound

Ch. 12: Austin “Outlaw” Country

Ch. 13: Neo-Traditionalists at the end of the 20th Century

Ch. 14: Mainstreaming Country in the ‘90s

Ch. 15: Redesigning Country in the 21st Century

An Overview

Ch. 1: What is Jazz?

Ch. 2: Before It Was Jazz

Ch. 3: Jazz is Born!

Ch. 4: Early Jazz Musicians

Ch. 5: Louis Armstrong

Ch. 6: Chicago and Harlem – Hub of 1920s Jazz

Ch. 7: Big Band – Jazz Swing!

Ch. 8: Big Band Musicians and Singers

Ch. 9: Jump Blues and Bop

Ch. 10: Cool Jazz

Ch. 11: Hard Bop

Ch. 12: Free Jazz – Breaking the Rules

Ch. 13: Fusion – The Jazz-Rock-Funk Experience

Ch. 14: Third Stream and World Jazz

Ch. 15: New Age & Smooth Jazz

Ch. 16: Summary – Jazz Lives!

An Overview

Ch. 1: Blues – The Granddaddy of American Popular Music

Ch. 2: Where Did the Blues Come From?

Ch. 3: What Are the Blues?

Ch. 4: How to Build the Blues

Ch. 5: Classic Blues – The Early Years

Ch. 6: Delta Blues – Authentic Beginnings

Ch. 7: Blues in the City – Migration and Power

Ch. 8: Blues in Britain – Redefining the Masters

Ch. 9: Contemporary Blues – Maturity and Respect

Ch. 10: The Relevancy of the Blues Today

Ch. 1: Timelines, Cultures & Technology

Ch. 2: Pre-Rock Influences

Ch. 3: Rock is Born!

Ch. 4: Rock is Named

Ch. 5: Doo-Wop

Ch. 6: Independent Record Labels

Ch. 7: Technology Shapes Rock ‘n’ Roll

Ch. 8: The Plan to Mainstream Rock ‘n’ Roll

Ch. 9: Payola – Rock ‘n’ Roll’s First Scandal

Ch. 1: Crafting Sound in the Studio/Producers and Hit Songs

Ch. 2: West Coast Sound: Beach, Surf, and Teens

Ch. 3: The British Invasion: Two Prongs – Pop & Blues

Ch. 4: Motown and the Development of a Black Pop-Rock Sound

Ch. 5: Soul Music: Gospel and R&B in the Deep South

Ch. 6: The Sounds of Bubble Gum Pop-Rock

Ch. 7: The Arrival of Folk-Rock

Ch. 8: Psychedelic Rock ‘n’ Roll

Ch. 9: Early Guitar Gods of Rock

Ch. 10: Rock Festivals: The Rise and Fall of Music, Peace, and Love

Ch. 11: Anti-Woodstock and Shock Rock Movements

Ch. 1: Technological Breakthroughs

Ch. 2: Electronic Dance Music

Ch. 3: Hip-Hop & Rap – An Introduction

Ch. 4: The Beginnings of Rap

Ch. 5: Old School Rap – Up From the Streets

Ch. 6: Rap’s Golden Age

Ch. 7: East Coast – Political Rap

Ch. 8: West Coast – Gangsta Rap

Ch. 9: The Fragmentation of Rap – Pop, Party & More

Ch. 10: Further Fragmentation – Different Directions

Ch. 11: The Importance of Rap

Ch. 1: Musical Stage Productions in America before the 1800s

Ch. 2: Minstrel Shows and Melodramas

Ch. 3: Stage Presentations in the Late 19th Century

Ch. 4: Early 20th Century: Revues and Operettas

Ch. 5: The Arrival of the Modern American Musical

Ch. 6: Great Partnerships in Book-Musicals

Ch. 7: Musical Theatre Composers in the mid-Century

Ch. 8: Fresh Voices on the Stage in the 1960s

Ch. 9: Two Dominant Forces at the End of the Century

Ch. 10: New Voices at the End of the Century

Ch. 11: New Voices, New Sounds in the New Century

Ch. 12: Musical Theatre Glossary

Ch. 13: Is it “Theatre” or “Theater”?

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