jazz: Jazz in the '50s
Jazz in the '50s
After beginning in New York City, progressive, or cool, jazz developed primarily on the West Coast in the late 1940s and early 50s. Intense yet ironically relaxed tonal sonorities are the major characteristic of this jazz form, while the melodic line is less convoluted than in bop. Lester Young's style was fundamental to the music of the cool saxophonists Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, and Stan Getz. Miles Davis played an important part in the early stages, and the influence of virtuoso pianist Lennie Tristano was all-pervasive. The music was accepted more gracefully by the public and critics than bop, and the pianist Dave Brubeck became its most widely known performer.
By the mid-1950s a form of neo-bop, or hard-bop, had arisen on the East Coast. John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Cannonball Adderley, Horace Silver, Art Blakey, and Max Roach led various small groups that produced an idiom marked by crackling, explosive, uncompromising intensity. About the same period, a number of outstanding musician-composers, including Gunther Schuller and John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet, produced “third stream” jazz, essentially a blend of classical music and jazz. Jazz has also been successfully combined with Afro-Latin music, as in the music of Candido, Machito, Eddie Palmieri, and Mongo Santamaria.
In the last half of the 1950s there were two major trends in contemporary jazz. First, a general modern jazz form had developed in the period since World War II, which can be called “mainstream,” best exemplified by the music of Gerry Mulligan's various bands. Second, a number of instruments that either had never been used seriously in jazz, such as the flute, oboe, and flügelhorn, or had been unpopular, such as the soprano saxophone, were used to bring new instrumental voices into the music.
Sections in this article:
- Jazz Since the 1990s
- Jazz Goes International
- The 1970-'80s: From Smooth Jazz to the Neo-Cons
- The 1960s: From Free Jazz to Jazz-Rock Fusion
- Jazz in the '50s
- New Orleans Jazz
- Origins of Jazz
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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