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The evolution of jazz is. A survey of American art form from Scott Joplin to Lenny Tristan. The evolution of jazz is a tape recorded feature presented under the auspices of Northeastern University by the Lowell Institute cooperative broadcasting Council. Nat Hentoff associate editor of Downbeat Magazine discusses the growth of jazz from its roots in Europe and Africa. And considers the musical as well as the sociological forces that shaped it. Mr Hentoff last week in the course of a discussion on instrumentation we were discussing the evolution of reeds in early contemporary jazz specifically the enormously influential work of the alto wist Charlie Parker and I just mention that in Earl Hines orchestra
the first bop so to speak developed in a large band previously and musicians like Parker and Polonius monk and Dizzy Gillespie had experimented either after hours or in small units. By 1943 Earl Hines band was slowly becoming a nursery of new ideas as Leonard Feather puts it in his book inside. Heinz encouraged the experimentation that was taking place in the ranks and gave them a relatively free hand even Billy Eckstein the vocalist studied trumpet as a sideline and picked up some of the ideas traded by Gillespie Charlie Parker Benny Harris and the rest. Feather continues that it will always be one of the great regrets of historians that the band of the late 1900 early 1944 era never made any records owing to the first recording ban which went into effect August for us in 1942. This was the first joint engagement of Gillespie and Parker and a decisive phase in the development of the new
music. After almost a year with Hines Parker worked briefly with Cody Williams and Andy correct then went on the road with the original Billy Eckstein band in 1944 leaving Eckstein he was in and out of fifty second street with Ben Webster with Gillespie a small band then with with his own group at the Three Deuces featuring an 18 year old trumpet player named Miles Davis whom we mentioned during the discussion of trumpet players. He rejoined Gillespie to go to California remain there after Gillespie returned East shortly afterwards Charlie Parker went to the physical and mental decline that has become a rather storied in jazz history. He was quite. Frank about it discussing it when he told Feather the story for an interview in Metro magazine after his return from New York to New York rather in 1947. Feather summarizes it thusly. Charlie was introduced in nightlife at its most lurid when he was still an immature lad of about 15.
Basically he was not and is not anti social and morally bankrupt but his true character was were up by contact with vicious elements in the Kansas City underworld and his entire adult life and professional career have been colored both by these contacts and by a background of insecurity and racial discrimination. Charlie spent many years fighting in addiction which was wrecking his career and in his own words it took 11 years out of his life. I didn't know what hit me I was a victim in the sense of circumstances he said high school kids don't know any better that way you can miss the most important years of your life. The years of possible creation I don't know how I made it through those years I became bitter hard cold. I was always on a panic. I couldn't buy clothes or a good place to live. Finally on the coast I didn't have any place to stay until somebody put me up in a converted garage. The mental strain was getting worse all the time what made it worst of all was that nobody understood our kind of music out on the coast. I can't begin to tell you how I yearned for a New York I like to
say here though I'm not an environmentalist in any absolute sense. Parker's fray is what made it worst of all was that nobody understood our kind of music out in the closed indicates that while it is quite true that some of our better jazz men have been as writers on the subject say you mature. It is also true that the attitude of society to the them in their music has not made it any more easy for them to adjust. The climax came one night at a recording session arranged by Ross Russell a jazz enthusiasm who had started a new company dial records devoted to Bravo. The events at that session in the agonizing weeks that preceded it were described in a fictionalized short story by Elliot Grant first published in Hopper's and later reprinted in prize stories of one thousand forty eight. After it had won an O'Henry Memorial Award it's called Sparrow his last jump. The record of lumber man which Charlie made that night was released by dial his solo starts a couple of bars Light continues incoherently and sounds like a shadow of the real Parker. He was unable to
finish the session. Later that night he broke down completely through the intercession of Ross Russell he was sent to Camarillo State Hospital where he remained for seven months. One of his first recordings after his return to the music world was relaxing and Camarillo and indicated that the old Parker brilliance had returned. Also on that recording were terrorist what or how in the
Barney Kessel guitar read calendar days and on the drums. Packer returned to New York. He conquered 57 straight and since then he's worked at the number of jazz clubs throughout the country. Toured with Norman grands as jazz at the Philharmonic unit and has made numerous recordings for dial Savoy and Mercury. Leonard Feather continues the story of Charlie's owl of evolution as a modern jazz man he says it cannot be ascribed to any one influence during his initial years around jazz he listened to Herschel Evans and Lester Young both with the late show Barry and A&E cricks Turner man the late Dick Wilson. He admired Johnny Hodges Willie Smith and Benny Carter and especially an alto player named Buster Smith who did most of the arranging for Count Basie's original band in Kansas City. I used to quit every job to go with Busta says Charlie but when I came to New York and went to Monroe's that was one of the Uptown spots in Harlem for experimental jazz. I began to listen to that real advanced New York style. I think the music of today is a
sort of combination of the Midwestern beat and the fast New York tempos. That's rather overgeneralized at Monroe's I heard sessions with a pianist named Allan Tenney. I listen to trumpet men like lips page Roy dizzy and Charlie Shavers all blowing each other all night long. Don Byas was there playing everything there was to be played I heard a trumpet man named Vic playing things I never heard of the regular bend of Monroe's with George Treadwell also on drums but that was the kind of music that caused me to quit Jamie and the Kansas City band and stay in New York. Like so many modern jazz musicians Charlie has listened intently to music outside the world of jazz he has studied Schoenberg. He admires Dave you see Stravinsky shows to coverage and particularly foreign talk. He credits his monk with many of the harmonic ideas that were incorporated into Bob that he dislikes having any branch of music traded rather branded with a name like Bob and for that matter used as a tradeable commodity. Let's call it music. He said some years ago it was being attacked and misrepresented.
People get so used to hearing jazz for so many years. Finally somebody said let's have something different and some new ideas began to evolve and people branded bebop and try to crush it. If it should ever become completely accepted Parker continued People should remember it's in just the same position the earlier jazz was it's another style. I don't think any one person invented it. I was playing the same style years before I came to New York and never consciously changed it but added to it to this it should be added as Feather points out the Charlie style did change in the tour though rather. Pretty consciously after he came to New York like any great jazz musician he strives constantly for freshness and originality. And it wasn't until he started recording with small bands in 1944 that I began to write original compositions in the new style. Even while he was with Heinz he did no writing. According to his recollection the first arranges to contribute to the Heinz library in the modern style were Gillespie trombonist Jerry Valentine and a young trumpeter named Neil have to be who later became well-known with Woody Herman's band. Charlie Parker has brought the art of jazz
improvisation to a new peak of maturity. A full appreciation of his genius I'm still quoting from Feather can only be gained by lengthy study of his work both in person and on records because of his personal problems there have been times when he has played without continuity without inspiration and even out of tune. Like any other saxophone player he can be the servant of his horn and if he has a bad read he will squeak like anyone else. These qualifications are not made in an attempt to apologize for Parker's occasional imperfections they are simply an explanation to the newcomer who may be confused to interpret in his mistakes the strokes of genius as do some of the naive young alto sax tyros who at one time. Well this is no longer the case. They used to copy every note on his record of Rubber Man let's say which he wishes had never been released. Brad's mind and fingers work with incredible speed he can apply for chord changes in the melodic pattern where another musician would have trouble inserting two. His conception and execution bring to mind tad damn Ron's comparison of the new jazz with the old. This comparison as I trust this course is shown as not accurate
but it does indicate the way the younger musicians thought of the new jazz Damron said it's as if you had two roads both going in the same direction but one of them was straight with no scenery around and the other twisted and turned and had a lot of beautiful trees on all sides. Wow New Orleans jazz and jazz of later periods had plenty of scenery and was not straight. But the younger jazz musicians felt that the older jazz had nothing new nothing stimulating to offer them and so they evolved this language. Charlie Parker father continues takes you along that second road often at such a speed that at first you may be too dazed to see the view clearly. But speed is not an essential component of his style on his dial recording of Embraceable You. He offers a typical Parker treatment of a slow pretty tune long complicated phrases relieved by short simple ones sharply contrasted to Gado in the Gato notes an oblique devious
approach to the harmonic pattern of the tune and an occasional suggestion of the original melody and always that rather caustic yet beautiful tone of beauty quite different from the luxury end. Opulence sound of it you know the typical rush Johnny Hodges solo. So it's hard to believe they both play the same instrument the Hodge's work has a musical ability of its own certainly and Parker as one of his greatest admirers. Here is an example then of Parker on a slow ballad Embraceable You. We are the. First three. At. The site. Fuck.
You. Yeah.
I like to mention to several of the vocal sounds that arose in early modern jazz. The major one was that of Sarah Vaughan Finkelstein describes her style as a singing style that's a product of the modern chromatic jazz with its constant change of key and use of HOF tones and what sounded first to the uninitiated strange intervals such singing must be completely on pitch except for lightly and deliberately slurred notes for otherwise the effect of the haaf tones and of the key changes is lost. And it requires the finest ear training. This is a recording of Sarah Vaughan made at the beginning of her career in the early forties with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. I am.
Now. That. I am. Some years later with another group of skilled modern jazz men Sarah
Vine recorded the Fats Waller tonight misbehave and she's accompanied by pianist Jimmy Jones Bud Johnson tenor Benny Green trombone Miles Davis trumpet Tony Scott clarinet Freddie Green and Mondello guitar Billy Taylor bass and J.C. hit on drums. Not particularly in the work of clarinet is Tony Scott and trumpeter Miles Davis. The sounds of the cool school which we shall discuss in a subsequent lecture. No one was a boy. Was.
In NO NO WAY. One kid was. A me. They say. The home was. There was also an early Bob.
Now a further expansion of the Scott vocal technique which already had been highly developed by Louis Armstrong and the late Leo Watson. Men like Dave Lambert and abide by the steward have the kind of year in the kind of ability to use vocables mainly evolves as part of an instrumental line so that they could indeed sound like instruments. For. Me. Oh. Yeah. Yeah. Me.
The Evolution of Jazz
Episode Number
Bop Continued, Part One
Producing Organization
WGBH Educational Foundation
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program continues the exploration of bop music.
Series Description
Jazz historian Nat Hentoff presents a series that traces the history of jazz, from its musical and cultural roots to its contemporary forms. "The Evolution of Jazz" was originally broadcast from WGBH in 1953-1954, and was re-broadcast by the National Educational Radio Network in 1964.
Broadcast Date
Asset type
Jazz musicians--United States--Biography.
Media type
Embed Code
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Host: Hentoff, Nat
Producer: Hentoff, Nat
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-32-32 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:25
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Chicago: “The Evolution of Jazz; 32; Bop Continued, Part One,” 1954-06-18, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 20, 2024,
MLA: “The Evolution of Jazz; 32; Bop Continued, Part One.” 1954-06-18. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 20, 2024. <>.
APA: The Evolution of Jazz; 32; Bop Continued, Part One. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from