Study Unit Progress

0% Complete
0/41 Steps

Ch. 11: Hard Bop

In Progress

There is some debate as to the source of the whack which pushed the jazz pendulum back towards a more rhythmic sound. Some say that cool jazz was too scientific, too complex, or even too boring for young musicians. Just as valid, though, seems the argument that the move was caused by a new sound in America: rock ‘n roll.

Rock ‘n roll – a combination of country & western honky-tonk sounds, rhythm & blues (known first as Jump blues), and gospel – had catchy lyrics and melodies, simple blues based chords, and, perhaps most importantly, a solid danceable beat, thanks to jump blues artists like Louis Jordan.

Cool jazz, in contrast, was most often lyricless – floating melodies over highly instrumented sustained complex chords. Intellectual it was. Intense it was. Richly sonorous it was. Danceable it wasn’t!

Whatever the force was, the pendulum back towards a solid consistent beat with simpler chord progressions and more predictable structure was the result.

Charles Mingus, 1976

The starting place for the bop renaissance, which was called the hard bop movement in jazz, was not the West Coast, where cool was king; nor New York City, where bop first was heard. It was in the industrial towns of Detroit and Chicago, and in East Coast cities like Philadelphia that the rejuvenators of bop developed their chops.

Sax players like Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, and Cannonball Adderley; bass player Charlie Mingus; pianists Horace Silver, Joe Zawinul (later founder of Weather Report), Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Keith Jarrett all rode the wave of bluesy hard bop in the late ’50s, and into the ’60s, and ’70s.

Art Blakey

Two individuals stand out from the large group of fine musicians who played in this style. Drummer Art Blakey was the source point for the solid drumming patterns which formed the rhythmic foundation of the hard bop sound. Moving away from the erratic drumming of the first bop movement, Blakey set a tight groove for the rest of his band, the Jazz Messengers, to fit around. Blakey led the Messengers which, over the course of thirty years, included dozens of the finest bop soloists of the hard bop style. Just as solid as his beat, Art Blakey was rhythmic mentor for many who would evolve hard bop into the next waves of jazz.

The second player of importance was Miles Davis, who, more than any other player in jazz, redefined himself over and over again. With each redefinition, he succeeded in finding a role on the cutting edge of a new style. From his roots in big band to bop to cool, back to hard bop, and then eventually as a pioneer in the rock-jazz hybrid called “fusion,” Davis was the ultimate musical innovator.

In cool, Davis orchestrated jazz with a classical complexity. In hard bop, Davis once again demonstrated himself to be the master of restraint. With a focused gaze, Davis gave the impression that he was carefully editing the musical ideas in his head, using silence as much as sound to paint the aural picture. His lean trumpet solos were often played in the middle register of the instrument with no vibrato and through a metal Harmon mute. In the late 1960s, Davis would redefine his sound once more.

Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers: “I Remember Clifford”, Belgium, 1958

Scroll to Top
Watch and Learn

Audio/Video Room


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”?

Study Units also have “Playdecks” – containing hundreds of chronologically organized audio examples of music in the study units, and “Study Qs” for unit chapters.

Study and Test

Testing Library

Contact Form