Bebop: a Controversial Transition to Modern Jazz

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Bebop: A Controversial
Transition to Modern Jazz

Nathan Marketich

Music 0711
Professor Leon Dorsey
Recitation TA: Alton Merrell 1:00
December 10, 2010

The decade of the 1940’s was an important era in the history of jazz. The 1940’s was a transition from traditional jazz into modern jazz. Leading this transition was the introduction of the Bebop period in Jazz. Bebop created controversy in the jazz world for being a contradiction to traditional jazz and was widely disliked by many audiences across America. Despite its controversy, Bebop, also referred to as “Bop,” was one of the most important eras in the history of Jazz. The technical creations by some of Bebop’s greatest musicians influenced future generations of jazz musicians
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With the leadership of three of the most famous jazz musicians, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonious Monk, Bebop reached its height in the mid 1940’s. Charlie Parker was one of the most influential and important soloists in Jazz history and was important to the development of the Bebop style. Parker was born in Kansas City, Kansas on August 29, 1920. In 1927 Charlie Parker’s family moved to Kansas City, Missouri, an influential center for African American jazz music in the 20th century. The rich musical culture in Kansas City fostered the development of the young Charlie Parker who began playing alto saxophone in 1933. After Parker left school in 1935 he pursued a career as a professional musician in Kansas City and played among various blues and jazz groups. In 1939 Parker visited New York, the national center for the music business at the time, for a year and participated in jam sessions with other musicians. Parker’s time spent in New York left him bored with the clichés of the popular Swing style still very common in America. He envisioned a new style of music, contrary to Swing jazz, that emphasized a new set of techniques. This new style of music which became Bebop would finally reach maturity in the mid 1940’s led by Charlie Parker (Patrick). In December 1942 Parker joined Earl Hine’s big band along with other young jazz musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie.

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