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Personal Notes - The History Of Jazz - Part 4
In Part Four of 'The History Of Jazz' I try to piece together the Bebop days of the genre that we love so much today and uncover the musicians who pathed the way for the music that we listen to today.  
wes george

If you are already a jazz aficionado you will already be aware of the following details so this article is aimed at those of you who are 'new to Jazz' or 'catching up'.

Whenever an artist is mentioned in the articles, YOU can send us your take on THEIR BIOGRAPHY and we will link it to a separate page with your credits. Send us the Biographies to ( We will reserve the right to edit before publishing ) - See Dave Brubeck

The History Of Jazz - Part 4 - Then Came Bebop

Bebop, the jazz insurrection of the Forties was the first jazz style to come along since Louis Armstrong that was in every respect new and different. It was almost as if the inventors of bop had sat down and said to themselves 'Is that how the older guys play?, well we're going to do it the other way round'.

The difference between Bop and Swing is often seen as an harmonic question, a switch from diatonic to chromatic harmony, but there were other changes just as fundamental, notably a quickening of the pulse of jazz.

Bop players loved quicksilver runs and were fond of doubling the tempo even when they were playing ballads. Much of the most characteristic bop however was played at an astonishing, unprecedented pace. 'That horn ain't spos'd to sound that fast' the swing tenor saxophonist Ben Webster is said to have declared on first hearing of Charlie Parker's playing.

Bop musicians also did away with the polished instrumental tones of the swing era e.g. growls, smears and tonal effects were out. Dizzy Gillespie was an example, built on Roy Eldridge's phenomenal ability to play high and fast on the trumpet. In time he played higher and faster than his model, on the edge of what is technically possible on the trumpet, but he was not interested in the hot sizzle of Eldridge's vibrato and the stress in bop phrasing was often the reverse of swing-on weak beats, not strong ones.

Altogether strange harmonies, hell-for-leather speed, inverted phrasing, funny new instrumental tones, bop had an exotic sound to the conventional ear, hence the bandleader Cab Calloway's description of it as 'Chinese Music'.

Some of the older generation, like Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young played with boppers but none could completely transfer to the style themselves. Bop was a watershed in jazz history.

The style was forged by the elite of younger black musicians, it was the music of a coterie, played in little clubs for people 'in the know'. Later on it acquired a following but it was never the dominant popular idiom of the Forties that was provided by singers like Frank Sinatra and the trappings of the bebop fans i.e. the dark glasses, berets and goatee beards (imitated from Gillespie) stressed that they were members of an esoteric inner circle.

You needed to be knowledgeable to appreciate this complex, fiercely compressed music. With bop, jazz not only split into separate camps, it also split off from the broad mass of popular music. It became an art, a highbrow affair.

In 1939 - 1941 the forerunners of bop liked to meet in two Harlem clubs, Minton's Playhouse and Monroe's Uptown House with the leaders-to-be of the bop revolution, guitarist Charlie Christian, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, saxophonist Charlie Parker, pianist Thelonious Monk for whom live recordings exist of sessions at Minton's and other Harlem clubs in 1940 and 1941.

Who contributed what to bop? - The accent on the bass drum (the name bebop seems to have begun as an onomatopoeic way of describing a drum pattern).

Thelonious Monk put in a lot of harmonic ideas as did Gillespie himself, but Parker and Gillespie were seen as the leaders by other musicians.

Of the two Gillespie, the steadier character was the one who rapidly became a famous name, the public face of bop. With his mischievous humour, his beard and beret he had an image as recognizable as Armstrong's handkerchief and wonderful grin.

He conducted his career with the shrewdness and stamina of an Ellington or a Hampton ('Dizzy is like a fox' someone once said of him), but wonderful though Dizzy was, Charlie Parker was the improvising genius. It was Parker who demonstrated the potential of the style with overwhelming power, just like Armstrong had done for Swing.

The first full recording sessions by bop bands do not come until 1944 and 1945, by which time, especially in Parker's masterly tracks from the latter year, the music had been refined to perfection.

By then too a number of important new figures had arrived. In the brilliant, psychologically unstable pianist Bud Powell, the new music found its most influential keyboard performer. A young drummer, Max Roach applied the lessons of Kenny Clarke with more rhythmic freedom. J. J. Johnson attempted the difficult task of playing bop on the slide trombone. Milt Jackson did the same for the vibes. Two trumpeters, Fats Navarro and Miles Davis appeared with less fiery, more reflective ways of playing than Gillespie.

Over the next few years the key bop records were made. Among the most important were Parker's on 'Savoy' and 'Dial'. Gillespie endeavoured to translate bop into big-band terms, while Tadd Dameron (with Navarro on trumpet) and Thelonious Monk made a superb series of recordings which in different ways showed how the music could be moulded by the sensibility of a composer.

By the late Forties Bop had Swing on the run. Most of the younger generation of players were more or less marked by it and in time Bop became the basis of the modern jazz of the Fifties. Since then Bop has had many rivals but in the early Nineties, a full half century after those young revolutionaries met at Minton's, it is still more likely than not that an up-and-coming musician will take Parker, Gillespie or Bud Powell for a role model.

Next Time in Part 5 - The Sound Of Cool Jazz

Catch Up
The History Of Jazz Part 1 -
Where It All Began
The History Of Jazz Part 2 - Jazz In The Twenties

The History Of Jazz Part 3 - The Age Of Swing  ^

Wes George
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Also See :-
* MKOJ 12 - Gil Evans - Out Of The Cool Review
* MKOJ 11 - Paul Desmond - Take Ten Review
* MKOJ 10 - S Getz & J Gilberto - Getz / Gilbert Review
* MKOJ 09 - Art Blakey - Moanin' Review
* MKOJ 08 - Julie London - Around Midnight Review
* MKOJ 07 - Round Midnight DVD Review
* MKOJ 06 - Dave Brubeck - Time Out Review
* MKOJ 05 - Charlie Parker - Now's The Time Review
* MKOJ 04 - Billie Holiday - Lady In Satin Review
* MKOJ 03 - John Coltrane - Blue Train Review
MKOJ 02 - Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue Review
MKOJ 01 - Overview of My Kind Of Jazz Series
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Personal Notes - WELCOME TO THE FALL OF 2020

Our latest STREETJAZZ SHOW No 922 on JAZZNET247 RADIO EUROPE has unbelievably 11 NEW RELEASES as usually at this time of the year many of the artists turn their attention to live performances over the Holiday Season.

Our own CHRISTMAS CHANNEL is programmed with 48 festive tracks @ and starts on Wednesday 26th November for circa 4 weeks. This will be available ONLY on our website link as our global listeners will have access to our STREETJAZZ SHOWS from the past 2 years throughout the HOLIDAY SEASON.

Watch out for our popular
TIME OUT Shows returning via our website from November, these shows are presented by today's artists themselves, first up are Gregory Abbott and Paula Atherton.

This week we have new music releases from Ken Powe, Marcus Click, Dr. Dave, Keith Mason, Danny Rae, Antonio Adolfo, Jarez, Tower Of Power, Charles Moorer, Paulette McWilliams and our friend and neighbour from Aarau in Switzerland guitarist Lars Taylor.

We have a stellar line up on our BRAZILIAN BOSSA SEGUE with one of my all time favourite Brazilian songs from LEILA PINHEIRO, we have new music from piano maestro ANTONIO ADOLFO directly from Brazil and British band SHAKATAK caress us with their AUTUMN SAMBA track
, first recorded by drummer Roger O'Dell's own BEATIFIK band. Guitartist TORCUATO MARIANO rounds off a wonderful collection of Brazilian Flavours for this week.

wind down the year 2020 with some of my own personal favourite tracks including GEORGE DUKE's 'A Melody', TOM SCOTT's 'Desire', WILTON FELDER and BOBBY WOMACK bring us 'Inherit The Wind' and LONNIE LISTON SMITH exudes cool with 'Once Again Love' from his 'Silhouettes' collection from 1984.

If you were born after 1990 and a fan of Smooth Jazz I encourage you NOT TO MISS THESE TRACKS, these were the forerunners of the Smooth Jazz sub genre craze that we enjoy today and I called it Fusion Jazz when I presented these tracks in the 80's.

Don't miss our Club Trax song with
another Swiss artist URS WIESENDANGER who joins up with the lovely DHENIBE ROMEA to bring us a show favourite entitled 'You Can Turn It Around' and we have a superb vocal from KHANI COLE with 'Somebody' on our last HOT FOR FALL track feature for 2020.

- Wes George



LISTEN TO STREETJAZZ SHOW No.922 from Wed Nov 18th


For 26 years JAZZNET247 RADIO EUROPE has been showcasing the latest tracks by today's jazz artists and we work daily with record companies, servicing agents and promotional companies from all over the world to bring YOU the songs for our playlist each week.

However if you are a recording artist and would like your tracks considered for airplay on JAZZNET247 RADIO EUROPE we invite you to SUBMIT YOUR MUSIC to us anytime.

Visit our SUBMIT MUSIC LINK at the top of any webpage @ or you can send us the DOWNLOAD LINKS via our STUDIO EMAIL ADDRESS @

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Every time an artist appears on JAZZNET247 RADIO EUROPE they get added to our ARTIST A to Z DIRECTORY with a CLICK THROUGH to the PLAYLIST that they last apppeared on.

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Learn more about this and listen to samples by today's leading jazz artists.


has NO COMMERCIAL FUNDING or SPONSORSHIP and has been funded and operated by myself for the past 26 years for the benefit of others.


LISTENERS may also tune in to our STREETJAZZ SHOWS and our 5 BONUS CHANNELS via our website, which include CONNOISSEUR JAZZ for Mainstream and Contemporary Jazz Fans, DREAMS OF RIO for Brazilian Bossa Fans, CLUBTRAX which are CLUBTRAX SONGS from the 70's and 80's from my nightclub days in London, and our one hour show for the LIVE365 WORLD AUDIO DAY 2020. We also have our new TIME OUT (NOW PLAYING) shows which are presented by today's jazz artists themselves.

Please pass on our links to your like minded jazz friends who may also Discover New Music Today.


We are delighted to announce the return of our popular TIME OUT SHOWS on JAZZNET247 RADIO EUROPE.

These show are presented by todays' jazz artists themselves and give an insight into the artists and songs that inspired them and they also introduce 21 of their personal favourite songs and recall the reasons for their choices. They will also play 3 of their own compositions in a fascinating insight into what goes on behind the music that we hear from them.

TIME OUT returns to JAZZNET247 RADIO EUROPE and first up is San Francisco's own GREGORY ABBOTT with a wonderful 2 hour show and some classic songs from him as well.


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