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Jazz has its fair share of seminal moments, but there are few that feel as groundbreaking as the creation of bebop. The style — which was ushered into existence in the late 1940s and ’50s by pioneers like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell and a handful of others — was a major leap in the evolution of jazz, turning musical concepts from the Swing Era on their head. Unlike its stylistic predecessors, bebop prioritized speed over smoothness, complexity over simplicity and art over entertainment, and its practitioners spoke an advanced musical language that would forever alter the way we thought about jazz harmony. Back in its day, bebop was described as the sound of the future. Today, that description still holds. It’s the single biggest influence on today’s top players.
If you’re new to bebop, this playlist is the place to start. Not only does it feature originators of the genre like Bird and Diz, but it also includes a handful of noteworthy players who, through the ensuing decades, have carried the bebop flame with pride. We’re calling them your Bebop Essentials. Time to dig in.
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