Top 10 Jazz Ironies - JazzWax

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May 13, 2009


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Michael Steinman

Perhaps all art is chased by ironies, but jazz seems more prone to them, given its precarious hold on the public imagination and its even more precarious economic status. These are very perceptive, very sad, very funny: you might, dear Marc, do a monthly list of them. I think it would be a long long time before you would get to the end of the jar of Ironies.

Cheers and thanks for comin' through the wry --

Larry Kart

What do you have in mind with "Hard Bop came into prominence on the West Coast (1954)"?

I would say that the first unmistakable and widely influential Hard Bop recording was Art Blakey's "A Night at Birdland," with Clifford Brown, Lou Donaldson, and Horace Silver, rec. Feb. 21, 1954, this preceded by Silver's first trio recordings from 1953. Arguably, the roots of the style begin with Bud Powell's "Bouncing With Bud"/ "Dance of the Infidels" date, with Navarro, Rollins, and Haynes, from Aug. 9, 1949.

Agustín Pérez Gasco


There's an OKeh recording of a song called "The Swing" from March 16, 1924 by Johnny de Droit and his New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, coupled with "New Orleans Blues" by the same group. Here's yet another jazz irony: swing and New Orleans.


Don Brown

In point 6, Marc, you call Ray Noble's "Cherokee" bebop's anthem. Well, I guess it could be considered one of the anthems, but as a jazz lover who grew up during the bop years I still remember everyone referring to "How High the Moon" as 'the national anthem of bebop'. Countless bop 'originals' were based on the chord progressions of Nancy Hamilton's song and it seemed to be the number one favorite for jamming and cutting contests.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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