Swing to Bop: An Oral History of the Transition in Jazz in the 1940s

By Ira Gitler | Go to book overview
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7
The Bop Era

From the time of its full emergence as a musical force in 1945, bop had continued to elongate its lines and smooth out some of the choppier, staccato accents that were evident in the early compositions. A small but instructive example is the variance between the transitional phrases at the end of the "Ornithology" theme as recorded by Charlie Parker for Dial in early 1946, and his airshot from the Royal Roost in December 1949.

The quintet Charlie Parker put together for the Three Deuces was to stay together for about a year and a half, and when Kenny Dorham replaced Miles Davis on Christmas Eve of 1948, it was the first personnel change in a group that, through its Dial recordings and extensive touring, helped establish Bird as the most influential soloist in jazz.

Bud Powell made one recording session with Parker in 1947, but his greatest achievements were to be in the format of his own trio until mental illness forced periods of inactivity and a decline in his powers during the '50s.

Tadd Dameron became a leader of a combo--usually a quintet but often a sextet--and in 1948 he headed the house band at the Royal Roost, a new jazz club on Broadway and 48th Street. The scene was shifting away from 52nd Street, and soon there would be other large Broadway clubs such as Bop City; the Clique followed in its wake. The Clique eventually became Birdland, named for Charlie Parker, at the end of 1949.

RED CALLENDER Bird was like a bright burning star. If he lived to ninety he couldn't have upset the scene much more, could he?

JOE ALBANY When Charlie was right, the melodies of his music had a rhythmic impulse built right into them. I never heard anything like that. His music danced right off the page.

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