Jazz Styles

A brief definition and description of Jazz styles, as well as number of legendary musicians representing each era.

    • TRADITIONAL — Jazz music associated with the early part of the twentieth century. Usually featuring trumpet & trombone front line with clarinet; these days best known as the music from New Orleans. Typical exponents would Kenny Ball or Acker Bilk.

    • BEBOP — Jazz from New York, a style which revolutionised music in the mid forties by introducing new concepts of harmony and improvisation and, thereby, influenced a whole new generation of musicians. Typically fast lines written over existing musical sequences; classic exponents of which are Charlie "Bird" Parker, Dizzie Gillespie, Thelonius Monk, etc.

    • WEST COAST — Jazz music with a gentler, more melodic Californian offshoot of the be-bop style. Typically alto sax or trumpet led small groups with a "sweet" approach, long lines and gentle rhythms. Exponents of this style being Stan Getz, Dave Brubeck.

    • HARD-BOP — An extension of the be-bop concept through the fifties and sixties exemplified by the small group featuring tenor sax and/or trumpet front line, playing original material in the Be-Bop style. Famous for its hard driving, swinging approach. Classic exponents would be early Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins, etc.

    • POST-BOP — A further extension of the Hard Bop concept which increased harmonic and melodic experimentation, typical of Jazz music through the sixties and seventies. Classic exponents are early John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, Ronnie Scott, etc.

    • MODERN — Generic term to cover all styles of Jazz music from Be-Bop through to Post-Bop.

    • FREE JAZZ / IMPROVISATION — Jazz music which has no formal harmonic or melodic structure. Originated in New York in the early sixties, popular in Europe through the seventies, now a marginal influence, a music never featured at the Club. Please note this music is rarely described as contemporary (see below) Exponents include Ornette Coleman and Evan Parker.

  • CONTEMPORARY / CROSSOVER — An extension of the Post-Bop style through the seventies and eighties typically combining John Coltrane influenced saxophone playing with contemporary rhythms, funk rock, soul etc. High energy music also associated with rock-influenced jazz guitar. Exponents include Michael Brecker, Pat Metheny, Courtney Pine, etc.