Bebop, also known as Bop, came about from jam sessions in Harlem in the early 1940?s. Among all of these new musicians, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonious Monk were the leading personalities. Parker?s exciting alto saxophone flights won him the popular nickname of Bird, yet he played equally creatively in ballads and in heartfelt blues such as ?Parker?s Mood?. Many Bop musicians rejected pianist Thelonius Monk because of his harsh, zigzagging melodies. Even so, he was highly regarded for the numerous songs which he had composed. Some of his songs such as ?Blue Monk? and ?Epistrophy? were very famous. Bop requires very fine technique to play and Parker was the most skillful of these musicians. Bop pieces were played at the fastest tempos yet heard in Jazz. Bop featured many-noted solos and unusually quickly changing harmonies. Bop was extremely difficult to sing. Despite this, vocalists such as Sarah Vaughan had the necessary voice range and control to sing it well.
The Bop era, which lasted from 1945 to 1960, was also the period of Cool Jazz.
This style was very similar to Bop but it avoided it?s irregular rhythms. The leaders of this movement were Lennie Tristano and his students Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh. This style thrived in the western cities of the United Stated mostly among white musicians. In the eastern cities, the opposite of Cool Jazz arose. It was called Hard Bop. This style was very vigorous and highly energetic. These songs were influenced strongly by the soulful harmonies of blues and black church music. Like Bop, Hard Bop was played not by large bands but by small groups. These composers were often able to make five musicians sound as powerful as an 18 piece band. People such as Horace Silver and Clifford Brown were among the best in this realm.
Today Bop is not as big as it used to be. It is only listened to and appreciated by a selected few. Most kids growing up today may never really know any of these masterpieces which were written less than fifty years ago. This is a shame and I feel that it is very important to not let this beautiful era in American music become extinct.