The Sound of Hard-Bop Playlist

Hard-bop is one of jazz’s most enduring subgenres, merging the intellectual, high-speed melodicism of bebop with the soul and swagger of the blues. It took shape in the mid-1950s among artists on the East Coast, who in many ways wanted to provide a contrast to the smooth, unruffled brand of jazz being served up on the West Coast by artists like Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan. What distinguished hard-bop at the time was its use of midtempo meters, driving rhythmic power and simple call-and-response melodic lines, which often times mimicked the musical language of the church, and even borrowed from popular genres like R&B, soul and early rock ‘n’ roll.

Many jazz legends — from Miles Davis and John Coltrane to Herbie Hancock and Sonny Rollins — have had made albums that can rightly be called hard-bop classics. You’ll find a good handful of those albums in this playlist, as well as some underrated gems that nonetheless pack a serious groove.

Ultimately, hard-bop is all about lifting spirits and changing attitudes. “Music is supposed to wash away the dust of everyday life,” said pioneering hard-bop drummer Art Blakey. We hope our Sound of Hard-Bop playlist does him right. It’s easy to love hard-bop.

Listen on:

  1. Moanin’
    Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers
  2. The Preacher
    Horace Silver
  3. Blue Train
    John Coltrane
  4. Walkin’
    Miles Davis Quintet
  5. Soul Station
  6. Hank Mobley
  7. Maiden Voyage
    Herbie Hancock
  8. The Sidewinder
    Lee Morgan
  9. Blue 7
    Sonny Rollins
  10. The Blues Walk
    Clifford Brown & Max Roach Quintet
  11. What Is This Thing Called Love?
    J.J. Johnson
  12. Scrapple from the Apple
    Dexter Gordon
  13. Stablemates
    Benny Golson
  14. Millie
    Blue Mitchell
  15. Work Song
    Cannonball Adderley
  16. Open Sesame
    Freddie Hubbard
  17. Jean De Fleur
    Grant Green
  18. Sugar 
    Stanley Turrentine
  19. Homestretch
    Joe Henderson
  20. Bluesnik
    Jackie McLean
  21. Chant
    Donald Byrd
  22. Judy’s Dilemma
    Curtis Fuller
  23. Four On Six
    Wes Montgomery
  24. Dat Dere
    Bobby Timmons
  25. Somethin’ Special
    Sonny Clark
  26. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
    Cannonball Adderley
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