Bebop or bop is a style of jazz developed in the early to mid-1940s in the United States, which features songs characterized by a fast tempo, complex chord progressions with rapid chord changes and numerous changes of key, instrumental virtuosity, and improvisation based on a combination of harmonic structure, the use of scales and occasional references to the melody.
Bebop developed as the younger generation of jazz musicians expand the creative possibilities of jazz beyond the popular, dance-oriented swing style with a new "musician's music" that was not as danceable and demanded close listening. As bebop was no longer a dance music, it enabled the musicians to play at faster tempos. Bebop musicians explored advanced harmonies, complex syncopation, altered chords, extended chords, chord substitutions, asymmetrical phrasing, and intricate melodies. Bebop groups used rhythm sections in a way that expanded their role. Whereas the key ensemble of the Swing era was the Big Band of up to fourteen pieces and playing tunes in an ensemble-based style, the classic bebop group was the small combo that consisted of saxophone (alto or tenor), trumpet, piano, double bass and drums playing music with the ensemble playing based on support for soloists. Rather than play heavily arranged music, Bebop musicians typically played the melody of a song (called the "head"), with the accompaniment of the rhythm section, then had a section in which all of the performers improvised solos, then returned to the melody at the end of the song.
Some of the most influential bebop artists, who were typically composer-performers, are: tenor sax players Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins and James Moody; alto sax player Charlie Parker; trumpeters Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown, and Dizzy Gillespie; pianists Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk; electric guitarist Charlie Christian, and drummer Max Roach.
The term "bebop" is derived from nonsense syllables (vocables) used in scat singing; the first known example of "bebop" being used was in McKinney's Cotton Pickers' "Four or Five Times", recorded in 1928. It appears again in a 1936 recording of "I'se a Muggin'" by Jack Teagarden. A variation, "rebop", appears in several 1939 recordings. The first known print appearance was also in 1939, but it was little-used subsequently until applied to the music now associated with it in the mid-1940s.
Some researchers speculate that it was a term used by Charlie Christian because it sounded like something he hummed along with his playing. Dizzy Gillespie stated that the audiences coined the name after hearing him scat the then-nameless tunes to his players and the press ultimately picked it up, using it as an official term: "People, when they'd wanna ask for those numbers and didn't know the name, would ask for bebop." Another theory is that it derives from the cry of "Arriba! Arriba!" used by Latin American bandleaders of the period to encourage their bands. At times, the terms "bebop" and "rebop" were used interchangeably. By 1945, the use of "bebop"/"rebop" as nonsense syllables was widespread in R&B music, for instance Lionel Hampton's "Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop".
Swing era influences
Bebop grew out of the culmination of trends that had been occurring within swing music since the mid-1930s: less explicit timekeeping by the drummer, with the primary rhythmic pulse moving from the bass drum to the high hat cymbal; a changing role for the piano away from rhythmic density towards accents and fills; less ornate horn section arrangements, trending towards riffs and more support for the underlying rhythm; more emphasis on and freedom for soloists; and increasing harmonic sophistication in arrangements used by some bands. The path towards rhythmically streamlined, solo-oriented swing was blazed by the territory bands of the southwest with Kansas City as their musical capital; their music was based on blues and other simple chord changes, riff-based in its approach to melodic lines and solo accompaniment, and expressing an approach adding melody and harmony to swing rather than the other way around. Ability to play sustained, high energy, and creative solos was highly valued for this newer style and the basis of intense competition. Swing-era jam sessions and "cutting contests" in Kansas City became legendary. The Kansas City approach to swing was epitomized by the Count Basie Orchestra, which came to national prominence in 1937.
One young admirer of the Basie orchestra in Kansas City was a teenage alto saxophone player named Charlie Parker. He was especially enthralled by their tenor saxophone player Lester Young, who played long flowing melodic lines that wove in and out of the chordal structure of the tune but somehow always made musical sense. Young was equally daring with his rhythm and phrasing as with his approach to harmonic structures in his solos. He would frequently repeat simple two or three note figures, with shifting rhythmic accents expressed by volume, articulation, or tone. His phrasing was far removed from the two or four bar phrases that horn players had used until then. They would often be extended to an odd number of measures, overlapping the musical stanzas suggested by the harmonic structure. He would take a breath in the middle of a phrase, using the pause, or "free space," as a creative device. The overall effect was that his solos were something floating above the rest of the music, rather than something springing from it at intervals suggested by the ensemble sound. When the Basie orchestra burst onto the national scene with its 1937 recordings and nationally-broadcast New York engagements, it gained a national following, with legions of saxophone players striving to imitate Young, drummers striving to imitate Jo Jones, piano players striving to imitate Basie, and trumpet players striving to imitate Buck Clayton. Parker played along with the new Basie recordings on a Victrola until he could play Young's solos note for note.
In the late 1930s the Duke Ellington Orchestra and the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra were exposing the music world to harmonically sophisticated musical arrangements by Billy Strayhorn and Sy Oliver, respectively, which implied chords as much as they spelled them out. That understatement of harmonically sophisticated chords would soon be used by young musicians exploring the new musical language of bebop.
The 1939 recording of "Body and Soul" by Coleman Hawkins featured an extended saxophone solo with minimal reference to the theme that was unique in recorded jazz, and which would become characteristics of bebop. That solo showed a sophisticated harmonic exploration of the tune, with implied passing chords. Hawkins would eventually go on to lead the first formal recording of the bebop style in early 1944.
Going beyond swing in New York
As the 1930s turned to the 1940s, Parker went to New York as a featured player in the Jay McShann Orchestra. In New York he found other musicians who were exploring the harmonic and melodic limits of their music, including Dizzy Gillespie, a Roy Eldridge-influenced trumpet player who, like Parker, was exploring ideas based on upper chord intervals, beyond the sevenths that had traditionally defined jazz harmony. While Gillespie was with Cab Calloway, he practiced with bassist Milt Hinton and developed some of the key harmonic and chordal innovations that would be the cornerstones of the new music; Parker did the same with bassist Gene Ramey while with McShann's group. Guitarist Charlie Christian, who had arrived in New York with the Benny Goodman Orchestra in 1939 was, like Parker, an innovator extending a southwestern style. Christian's major influence was in the realm of rhythmic phrasing. Christian commonly emphasized weak beats and off beats and often ended his phrases on the second half of the fourth beat. Christian experimented with asymmetrical phrasing, which was to become a core element of the new bop style.
Piano players were working with new ideas as well. The brilliant technique and harmonic sophistication of Art Tatum was inspiring young pianists such as Bud Powell to push beyond the limits of the music they knew. Thelonious Monk was adapting the new harmonic ideas to his style that was rooted in in Harlem stride piano playing.
Drummers such as Kenny Clarke and Max Roach were extending the path set by Jo Jones, adding the ride cymbal to the high hat cymbal as a primary timekeeper and reserving the bass drum for accents. Bass drum accents were colloquially termed "bombs," which referenced events in the world outside of New York as the new music was being developed. The new style of drumming supported and responded to soloists with accents and fills, almost like a shifting call and response. This change increased the importance of the string bass. Now, the bass not only maintained the music's harmonic foundation, but also became responsible for establishing a metronomic rhythmic foundation by playing a "walking" bass line of four quarter notes to the bar. While small swing ensembles commonly functioned without a bassist, the new bop style required a bass in every small ensemble.
The kindred spirits developing the new music gravitated to sessions at Minton's Playhouse, where Monk and Clarke were in the house band, and Monroe's Uptown House, where Max Roach was in the house band. Part of the atmosphere created at jams like the ones found at Minton's Playhouse was an air of exclusivity: the "regular" musicians would often reharmonize the standards, add complex rhythmic and phrasing devices into their melodies, or "heads," and play them at breakneck tempos in order to exclude those whom they considered outsiders or simply weaker players. These pioneers of the new music (which would later be termed bebop or bop, although Parker himself never used the term, feeling it demeaned the music) began exploring advanced harmonies, complex syncopation, altered chords and chord substitutions. The bop musicians advanced these techniques with a more freewheeling, intricate and often arcane approach. Bop improvisers built upon the phrasing ideas first brought to attention by Lester Young's soloing style. They would often deploy phrases over an odd number of bars and overlap their phrases across bar lines and across major harmonic cadences. Christian and the other early boppers would also begin stating a harmony in their improvised line before it appeared in the song form being outlined by the rhythm section. This momentary dissonance creates a strong sense of forward motion in the improvisation. The sessions also attracted top musicians in the swing idiom such as Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Roy Eldridge, and Don Byas. Byas became the first tenor saxophone player to fully assimilate the new bebop style in his playing. In 1944 the crew of innovators was joined by Dexter Gordon, a tenor saxophone player from the west coast in New York with the Louis Armstrong band, and a young trumpet player attending the Juilliard School of Music, Miles Davis.
Early bebop recordings
Bebop originated as "musicians' music," played by musicians with other money-making gigs who didn't care about the commercial potential of the new music. It did not attract the attention of major record labels nor was it intended to. Some of the early bebop was recorded informally. Some sessions at Minton's in 1941 were recorded, with Thelonious Monk alongside an assortment of musicians including Joe Guy, Hot Lips Page, Roy Eldridge, Don Byas, and Charlie Christian. Christian is featured in recordings from May 12, 1941 (Esoteric ES 548). Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie were both participants at a recorded jam session hosted by Billy Eckstine on February 15, 1943, and Parker at another Eckstine jam session on February 28, 1943 (Stash ST-260; ST-CD-535)
Formal recording of bebop was first performed for small specialty labels, who were less concerned with mass-market appeal than the major labels, in 1944. On February 16, 1944, Coleman Hawkins led a session including Dizzy Gillespie and Don Byas, with a rhythm section consisting of Clyde Hart (piano), Oscar Pettiford (bass) and Max Roach (drums) that recorded Woody'n You (Apollo 751), the first formal recording of bebop. Charlie Parker was recorded in a quintet led by guitarist Tiny Grimes for the Savoy label on September 15, 1944. Hawkins led another bebop-influenced recording session on October 19, 1944, this time with Thelonious Monk on piano, Edward Robinson on bass, and Denzil Best on drums (On the Bean, Recollections, Flyin' Hawk, Driftin' on a Reed; reissue, Prestige PRCD-24124-2).
Parker, Gillespie, and others working the bebop idiom joined the Earl Hines Orchestra in 1943, then followed vocalist Billy Eckstine out of the band into the Billy Eckstine Orchestra in 1944. The Eckstine band was recorded on V-discs, which were broadcast over the Armed Forces Radio Network and gained popularity for the Eckstine band showcasing the new bebop style. The format of the Eckstine band, featuring vocalists and entertaining banter, would later be emulated by Gillespie and others leading bebop-oriented big bands in a style that might be termed "popular bebop." Starting with the Eckstine band's session for the DeLuxe label on December 5, 1944, bebop recording sessions grew more frequent. Parker had left the band by that date, but it still included Gillespie along with Dexter Gordon and Gene Ammons on tenor, Leo Parker on baritone, Tommy Potter on bass, Art Blakey on drums, and Sarah Vaughan on vocals. Blowing the Blues Away featured a tenor saxophone duel between Gordon and Ammons.
On January 4, 1945, Parker, Gillespie, and Don Byas recorded under "Clyde Hart's All Stars" for the Continental label Gillespie recorded his first session as a leader on January 9, 1945 for the Manor label, with Don Byas on tenor, Clyde Hart on Piano, Oscar Pettiford on bass, and Irv Kluger on drums. The session recorded I Can't Get Started, Good Bait, Be-bop (Dizzy's Fingers), and Salt Peanuts (which some genius in Manor's production apparatus decided to label "Salted Peanuts"). Thereafter, Gillespie would record bebop prolifically and gain recognition as one of its leading figures. Parker appeared in Gillespie-led sessions dated February 28 and May 11, 1945 for the Guild label, and May 25, 1945 for the Continental label. Parker and Gillespie appeared in a session under vibraphonist Red Norvo dated June 6, 1945 for the Dial label. Parker's first session as a leader was on November 26, 1945 for the Savoy label, with Miles Davis on trumpet, Sadik Hakim (Argonne Thornton) on piano, Curley Russell on bass and Max Roach on drums (Warming Up a Riff, Now's the Time, Billie's Bounce, Thriving on a Riff, Ko-Ko, Meandering). Dexter Gordon, after appearing as a sideman in bebop sessions led by Gillespie, Eckstine, and Sir Charles Thompson, led his first session for the Savoy label on October 30, 1945, with Sadik Hakim on piano, Gene Ramey on bass, and Eddie Nicholson on drums (Blow Mr Dexter, Dexter's Deck, Dexter's Cuttin' Out, Dexter's Minor Mad). After appearing as a sideman in the R&B-oriented Cootie Williams Orchestra through 1944, Bud Powell was in bebop sessions led by Frankie Socolow on May 2, 1945, then Dexter Gordon on January 29, 1946 for the Savoy label (Long Tall Dexter, Dexter Rides Again, I Can't Escape From You, Dexter Digs In).
The breakout of bebop
By 1946 bebop was established as a broad-based movement among jazz musicians, drawing the likes of trumpeters Fats Navarro and Kenny Dorham, trombonist J. J. Johnson, tenor saxophonists Lucky Thompson, James Moody and Wardell Gray, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, pianists Erroll Garner Al Haig, and Dodo Marmarosa, bassist Slam Stewart, and others who would contribute to what would become known as "modern jazz." The new music was gaining radio exposure with broadcasts such as those hosted by "Symphony Sid" Torin. As the popularity of bebop spread, fueled in part by the footloose return of servicemen to civilian life, Los Angeles would become another center of the new music, exemplified by the legendary jam sessions featuring tenor saxophone duels between Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray.
Gillespie landed the first recording date for a major label with the new music, with the RCA Bluebird label recording Dizzy Gillespie And his Orchestra on February 22nd, 1946 (52nd Street Theme, A Night in Tunisia, Ol' Man Rebop, Anthropology). Gillespie, with his extroverted personality and humor, glasses, lip beard and beret, would become the most visible symbol of the new music and new jazz culture in popular consciousness. That of course slighted the contributions of others with whom he had developed the music over the preceding years. His show style, influenced by black vaudeville circuit entertainers, seemed like a throwback to some and offended some purists ("too much grinning" according to Miles Davis), but it was laced with a subversive sense of humor that gave a glimpse of attitudes on racial matters that black musicians had previously kept away from the public at large. Before the Civil Rights movement, Gillespie was confronting the racial divide by lampooning it. The intellectual subculture that surrounded bebop made it something of a sociological movement as well as a musical one.
With the imminent demise of the big swing bands, bebop had become the dynamic focus of the jazz world, with a broad-based "progressive jazz" movement seeking to emulate and adapt its devices. It was to be the most influential foundation of jazz for a generation of jazz musicians.
Bebop and beyond
By 1950, a second wave of bebop musicians—such as Clifford Brown and Sonny Stitt—began to smooth out the rhythmic eccentricities of early bebop. Instead of using jagged phrasing to create rhythmic interest, as the early boppers had, these musicians constructed their improvised lines out of long strings of eighth notes and simply accented certain notes in the line to create rhythmic variety.
During the early 1950s bebop remained at the top of awareness of jazz, while its harmonic devices were adapted to the new "cool" school of jazz led by Miles Davis and others. It continued to attract young musicians such as Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. As musicians and composers began to work with expanded music theory during the mid-1950s, its adaptation by musicians who worked it into the basic dynamic approach of bebop would lead to the development of post-bop. Around that same time, a move towards structural simplification of bebop occurred among musicians such as Horace Silver and Art Blakey, leading to the movement known as hard bop. Development of jazz would occur through the interplay of bebop, cool, post-bop, and hard bop styles through the 1950s.
Bebop differed drastically from the straightforward compositions of the swing era and was instead characterized by fast tempos, asymmetrical phrasing, intricate melodies, and rhythm sections that expanded on their role as tempo-keepers. The music itself seemed jarringly different to the ears of the public, who were used to the bouncy, organized, danceable tunes of Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller during the swing era. Instead, bebop appeared to sound racing, nervous, erratic and often fragmented. But to jazz musicians and jazz music lovers, bebop was an exciting and beautiful revolution in the art of jazz.
'Bebop' was a label that certain journalists later gave it, but we never labeled the music. It was just modern music, we would call it. We wouldn't call it anything, really, just music.
While swing music tended to feature orchestrated big band arrangements, bebop music highlighted improvisation. Typically, a theme (a "head," often the main melody of a pop or jazz standard of the swing era) would be presented together at the beginning and the end of each piece, with improvisational solos based on the chords of the tune. Thus, the majority of a song in bebop style would be improvisation, the only threads holding the work together being the underlying harmonies played by the rhythm section. Sometimes improvisation included references to the original melody or to other well-known melodic lines ("quotes", "licks" or "riffs"). Sometimes they were entirely original, spontaneous melodies from start to finish.
Chord progressions for bebop tunes were often taken directly from popular swing-era songs and reused with a new and more complex melody, forming new compositions (see contrafact). This practice was already well-established in earlier jazz, but came to be central to the bebop style. The style made use of several relatively common chord progressions, such as blues (at base, I-IV-V, but infused with II-V motion) and 'rhythm changes' (I-VI-II-V, the chords to the 1930s pop standard "I Got Rhythm"). Late bop also moved towards extended forms that represented a departure from pop and show tunes. Bebop chord voicings often dispensed with the root and fifth tones, instead basing them on the leading intervals that defined the tonality of the chord. That opened up creative possibilities for harmonic improvisation such as tritone substitutions and use of diminished scale based improvised lines that could resolve to the key center in numerous and surprising ways.
Bebop musicians also employed several harmonic devices not typical of previous jazz. Complicated harmonic substitutions for more basic chords became commonplace. These substitutions often emphasized certain dissonant intervals such as the flat ninth, sharp ninth or the sharp eleventh/tritone. This unprecedented harmonic development which took place in bebop is often traced back to a transcendent moment experienced by Charlie Parker while performing "Cherokee" at Clark Monroe's Uptown House, New York, in early 1942. As described by Parker:
I'd been getting bored with the stereotyped changes that were being used, ... and I kept thinking there's bound to be something else. I could hear it sometimes. I couldn't play it.... I was working over "Cherokee", and, as I did, I found that by using the higher intervals of a chord as a melody line and backing them with appropriately related changes, I could play the thing I'd been hearing. It came alive.
Gerhard Kubik postulates that the harmonic development in bebop sprung from the blues, and other African-related tonal sensibilities, rather than twentieth century Western art music, as some have suggested. Kubik states: "Auditory inclinations were the African legacy in [Parker's] life, reconfirmed by the experience of the blues tonal system, a sound world at odds with the Western diatonic chord categories. Bebop musicians eliminated Western-style functional harmony in their music while retaining the strong central tonality of the blues as a basis for drawing upon various African matrices." Samuel Floyd states that blues were both the bedrock and propelling force of bebop, bringing about three main developments:
- A new harmonic conception, using extended chord structures that led to unprecedented harmonic and melodic variety.
- A developed and even more highly syncopated, linear rhythmic complexity and a melodic angularity in which the blue note of the fifth degree was established as an important melodic-harmonic device.
- The reestablishment of the blues as the music's primary organizing and functional principle.
While for an outside observer the harmonic innovations in bebop would appear to be inspired by experiences in Western "serious" music, from Claude Debussy to Arnold Schoenberg, such a scheme cannot be sustained by the evidence from a cognitive approach. Claude Debussy did have some influence on jazz, for example, on Bix Beiderbecke's piano playing, and it is also true that Duke Ellington adopted and reinterpreted some harmonic devices in European contemporary music. West Coast jazz would run into such debts as would several forms of cool jazz. But bebop has hardly any such debts in the sense of direct borrowings. On the contrary, ideologically, bebop was a strong statement of rejection of any kind of eclecticism, propelled by a desire to activate something deeply buried in self. Bebop then revived tonal-harmonic ideas transmitted through the blues and reconstructed and expanded others in a basically non-Western harmonic approach. The ultimate significance of all this is that the experiments in jazz during the 1940s brought back to African-American music several structural principles and techniques rooted in African traditions.
An alternate theory would be that Bebop, like much great art, probably evolved drawing on many sources. An insightful YouTube video  has Jimmy Raney, a jazz guitarist of the time and friend of Charlie Parker, describing how Parker would show up at Raney's apartment door in search of refreshment and the music of Bela Bartok, a leading 20th Century Classical Music composer. Raney describes the great knowledge and depth of understanding that Parker had with the music of Bartok and Arnold Schoenberg, in particular Pierrot Lunaire by Schoenberg and the Quartets by Bartok. Raney recounts his comment to Parker that a section from the Scherzo of the Bartok's Fifth Quartet sounded a lot like some of Parker's jazz improvisation.
The classic bebop combo consisted of saxophone, trumpet, double bass, drums and piano. This was a format used (and popularized) by both Parker (alto sax) and Gillespie (trumpet) in their 1940s groups and recordings, sometimes augmented by an extra saxophonist or guitar (electric or acoustic), occasionally adding other horns (often a trombone) or other strings (usually violin) or dropping an instrument and leaving only a quartet.
Although only one part of a rich jazz tradition, bebop music continues to be played regularly throughout the world. Trends in improvisation since its era have changed from its harmonically-tethered style, but the capacity to improvise over a complex sequence of altered chords is a fundamental part of any jazz education.
The musical devices developed with bebop were influential far beyond the bebop movement itself. "Progressive Jazz" was a broad category of music that included bebop-influenced "art music" arrangements used by big bands such as those led by Boyd Raeburn, Charlie Ventura, Claude Thornhill, and Stan Kenton, and the cerebral harmonic explorations of smaller groups such as those led by pianists Lennie Tristano and Dave Brubeck. Voicing experiments based on bebop harmonic devices were used by Miles Davis and Gil Evans for the groundbreaking "Birth of the Cool" sessions in 1949. Musicians who followed the stylistic doors opened by Davis, Evans, Tristano, and Brubeck would form the core of the cool jazz and "west coast jazz" movements of the early 1950s.
By the mid-1950s musicians began to be influenced by music theory proposed by George Russell. Those who incorporated Russwll's ideas into the bebop foundation would define the post-bop movement that would later incorporate modal jazz into its musical language.
Hard bop was a simplified derivative of bebop introduced by Horace Silver and Art Blakey in the mid-1950s. It became a major influence until the late 1960s when free jazz and fusion jazz gained ascendancy.
The neo-bop movement of the 1980s and 1990s revived the influence of bebop, post-bop, and hard bop styles after the free jazz and fusion eras.
Bebop style also influenced the Beat Generation whose spoken-word style drew on African-American "jive" dialog, jazz rhythms, and whose poets often employed jazz musicians to accompany them. Jack Kerouac would describe his writing in On the Road as a literary translation of the improvisations of Charlie Parker and Lester Young. The "beatnik" stereotype borrowed heavily from the dress and mannerisms of bebop musicians and followers, in particular the beret and lip beard of Dizzy Gillespie and the patter and bongo drumming of guitarist Slim Gaillard. The bebop subculture, defined as a non-conformist group expressing its values through musical communion, would echo in the attitude of the psychedelia-era hippies of the 1960s. Fans of bebop were not restricted to the United States; the music also gained cult status in France and Japan.
More recently, hip-hop artists (A Tribe Called Quest, Guru) have cited bebop as an influence on their rapping and rhythmic style. As early as 1983, Shawn Brown rapped the phrase "Rebop, bebop, Scooby-Doo" toward the end of the hit "Rappin' Duke". Bassist Ron Carter collaborated with A Tribe Called Quest on 1991's The Low End Theory, and vibraphonist Roy Ayers and trumpeter Donald Byrd were featured on Guru's Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 in 1993. Bebop samples, especially bass lines, ride cymbal swing clips, and horn and piano riffs are found throughout the hip-hop compendium.
Notable musicians identified with bebop:
- Accordion: Frank Marocco
- Bass: Ray Brown, Paul Chambers, Percy Heath, Milt Hinton, Charles Mingus, Oscar Pettiford, Tommy Potter
- Clarinet: Buddy DeFranco
- Drums: Art Blakey, Kenny Clarke, Jimmy Cobb, Roy Haynes, Eric Ineke, Philly Joe Jones, Stan Levey, Max Roach
- Guitar Kenny Burrell, Charlie Christian, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel, Pat Martino, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Jimmy Raney, Ronnie Singer, Carlton Kitto
- Piano: Tadd Dameron, Walter Davis, Jr., Bill Evans, Al Haig, Sadik Hakim, Barry Harris, Ahmad Jamal, Duke Jordan, Lou Levy, John Lewis, Dodo Marmarosa, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson, Bud Powell, Horace Silver, Lennie Tristano, George Wallington
- Saxophone (Alto): Cannonball Adderley, Lee Konitz, Charles McPherson, Frank Morgan, Charlie Parker, Art Pepper, Sonny Stitt
- Saxophone (Baritone): Pepper Adams
- Saxophone (Tenor): Don Byas, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Rouse, Sonny Stitt, Lucky Thompson
- Trombone: Carl Fontana, Curtis Fuller, J. J. Johnson, Frank Rosolino
- Trumpet: Chet Baker, Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham, Dizzy Gillespie, Howard McGhee, Blue Mitchell, Lee Morgan, Fats Navarro, Red Rodney, Ed Zandy
- Vibraphone: Milt Jackson
- Vocals: Betty Carter, Billy Eckstine, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan
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