[Dixielandjazz] Re: BeBop intellectual music?

Barbonestreet@earthlink.net Barbonestreet@earthlink.net
Thu, 13 Jun 2002 14:12:17 -0700

Since it's quiet, I'll take the contrary position to Bob & Brian. Here is my two cents.

I think bebop is "intellectual" music in the sense that it must be listened to carefully in order to fully understand and appreciate it. It is not music with straightforward changes and straightforward rhythm that the listener can hear casually. 

It is very different from OKOM, rhythmically and harmonically and to play bebop or hard bop correctly, the musician must be a virtuoso.

Some well known examples of great bop players in the halcyon days of the bop era, 1940 to 1960 were Gillespie, Navarro, Clifford Brown, Bud Powell, Buddy DeFranco, Tony Scott. On the other hand, Miles Davis was not a great bop player, nor was Thelonious Monk. Miles went in a different, easier musical direction and Monk chose to go into a harder more abstract direction.  

The musical language of bop is very different, and much more intense, that that of OKOM, Straight Ahead, Swing or other earlier forms of jazz, or jazz type music. 

All forms of real jazz are "intellectual" in that they are not really understood by the average listener. Bop is just at the "harder to understand" end of the scale for many of us.

Steve Barbone

PS. As a typical example of what I mean, occurred to me last Sunday at a local concert. We were playing Ellington's "C Jam Blues". On the clarinet solo, the guitar, bass and I use substitute changes know as "Bird" or "John Lewis" changes which take it into the realm of bop blues as Parker played them. At concert end a woman came up, said she was a piano teacher, and wow, did she like those wonderful changes that we went to. Etc., etc. I guarantee you, that the rest of the audience, some 400 or so, did not hear what she heard. They heard swinging jazz, but not those esoteric blues changes. We were very flattered that someone actually heard and then understood what we were really playing.