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JAZZ A Film By Ken Burns
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Page of hand written sheet music
Jazz LoungeHard Bop Style
Hard Bop Style, The styles explained Art Blakey
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Hard Bop Style

By Loren Schoenberg, Conductor and Saxophonist

Audio sample Ms. B.C. by Art Blakey
Recorded 1981
(Courtesy Verve Music Group)

Art Blakey and Horace Silver realized in the early 1950's that "modern" jazz had left a large part of its audience behind. To remedy the situation, they reintroduced many devices from the Big Band era, giving their music a tangibly melodic sound played over a strong and steady rhythm. There was also a greater emphasis placed on reaching the listeners than had been the case since Parker's advent in the mid-40's. In 1953, Blakey told jazz writer Nat Hentoff: "We're trying to build up a group that has that good old jazz feeling. We want to blow and have a ball and make mistakes, if necessary, but have that good feeling that used to be in jazz. Remember Davey Tough? That's what I mean."

Audio Feature Jackie McLean, musician
On the energy and thunder of Art Blakey
(Audio Excerpt from JAZZ A Film by Ken Burns)

The leaders went their own way a couple of years later, and established, in effect, conservatories for many of the best young players. Blakey in particular fostered the growth of dozens of jazz musicians who went on to become major figures. The 1981 edition of the Messengers heard on alto saxophonist Bobby Watson's Ms. B.C., named after singer Betty Carter, is no exception. It reveals that Blakey kept his ears open and encouraged his bands to write their own music, which he would then feature and record. Along with the composer, all the members of this band have grown into distinguished musicians themselves, and are vital members of the jazz scene today.