Neo-bop jazz

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Neo-bop (also called neotraditionalist) refers to a style of jazz that gained popularity in the 1980s among musicians who found greater aesthetic affinity for acoustically-based, swinging, melodic forms of jazz than for free jazz and jazz fusion that had gained prominence in the 1960s and 1970s. It contains elements of bebop, hard bop, and modal jazz. As both neo-bop and post-bop categories denote eclectic mixtures of styles from the bebop and post-bebop eras, the standards for separating the two categories are not clear. In the United States neo-bop is associated with Wynton Marsalis and "The Young Lions," although they have also been referred to as post-bop. Neo-bop was also embraced by established musicians who either ignored the avant-garde and fusion movements, or returned to music based on more traditional styles after experimenting with them. The return to more traditionally-based styles earned praise and also criticism. Miles Davis called it "warmed over turkey"[1] and others deemed it to be too dependent on the past. The movement, however, received praise from Time magazine and others who welcomed the return of more accessible forms of jazz.[2] There were also those who deemed it a valid evolution from hard bop.


Some bebop and post-bop musicians eschewed both the avant-garde explorations of the 1960s and the electronically-based, pop-influenced sounds of jazz fusion to work within more traditional jazz forms. Most prominent among these was the drummer Art Blakey, whose Jazz Messengers group was a stylistic incubator for like-minded younger musicians. Drummer Cindy Blackman credited Blakey with keeping jazz from being completely eclipsed by fusion during the 1970s.[3] Many of the younger musicians who went on to form the core of the neotraditionalist "Young Lions," including Wynton Marsalis, were Jazz Messengers alumni.

Dexter Gordon returned from an extended stay in Europe, where he had continued to play styles mostly ranging from bebop to hard bop, to New York in 1976. His "homecoming" generated a great deal of enthusiasm, reviving interest in musical forms that he and others had kept alive in Europe while they had fallen out of prominence in North America. Gordon would release a series of live and studio recordings through the late 1970s and the Savoy and Blue Note labels re-released recordings from their Gordon catalogs.

Albert Murray, in his 1976 book Stomping the Blues, contended that true jazz was based on three elements, swing, blues tonalities, and acoustic sounds. His ideas influenced Stanley Crouch who, along with Marsalis, became a militant advocate of the core jazz elements as defined by Murray. Crouch went on to contend that many of the devices of avant-garde and fusion were grandstanding and used as a cover for lazy-mindedness or lack of musicianship.[4] Crouch wrote, "We should laugh at those who make artistic claims for fusion."[5] In 1987 Murray, Crouch, and Marsalis founded the Jazz at Lincoln Center program in New York, where Crouch and Marsalis would serve as Artistic Directors. JALC would become one of the main institutional promoters of the neotraditionalist movement.

Musicians associated with Neo-bop[edit]

Note: This list is derived from All Music[6] and may contain inaccuracies. In addition the source indicates most or all these musicians work in others genres as well with Post-bop and Hard bop being most common.


  1. ^ The Guardian
  2. ^ University of Dayton
  3. ^ "Art Blakey, Jazz Great, Is Dead; A Drummer and Band Leader, 71". New York Times article by Peter Watrous. October 17, 1990. Retrieved April 25, 2010.
  4. ^ Boynton, Robert J. (6 Nov 1995). "The Professor of Connection". The New Yorker. pp. 97–116. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
  5. ^ Crouch, Stanley (March 2002). "Four-Letter Words: Rap & Fusion". JazzTimes. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
  6. ^ All Music