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An Evening Spent Exploring the Sub-Genres of Jazz – from Swing to Hard Bop

Horace Silver and the Jazz MessengersAs you may have surmised if you have read any of my posts, I am not a jazz guru. I am someone who has been listening to the music of the genre since the late 1960s. Until a few years ago, my listening has been limited to a select few musicians, including Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Smith, Miles Davis and a few others. However, within the last several years, I have listened to more and more jazz and within the last year my list of favorites has exploded!!  As a result, I have developed this website to write about my explorations of the genre. Depending on my mood, I may listen to a past great or maybe a new kid on the block. Jazz listening is very much based on how I feel and what I’m doing!

Last night, I thought I’d explore the sub-genres of jazz. Here’s a table  developed after reading articles from around the web……

Years Sub-Genre


Main Artists

1930-1940s Swing  Swing started 1930s and was a distinctive style by 1940. Featured mostly big bands,dance  music, with medium to fast tempos with a “lilting” swing time feel. Bands consisted of a strong rhythm sections with lots of brass and woodwinds and sometimes strings Soloists often improvised melodies over the arrangement

 Duke Ellington

Count Basie

Glenn Miller

Benny Goodman

Tommy Dorsey

Lionel Hampton

1940s-1950s BeBop BeBop was an alternative to swing, the music features fast tempos, asysmetrical phrasing,intricate melodies with a strong rhythm section acting as timekeepers. The musical virtuosity demanded listening rather than dancing.Combos included sax, bass,trumpet,drums,and piano

 Dizzy Gillespie

Charlie Parker

Bud Powell

Mid 1950s Hard Bop Hard Bop developed as an extension of BeBop. Hard Bop emphasized elements of blues, rhythm and blues and even some gospel, especially through the saxophone and piano. The rhythm sections were looser and the bassist was not confined to playing 4/4 beats to the measure. From JazzHotHouse….

Hard bop was born in the mid-1950s. Two recordings signaled the birth of hard bop: Miles Davis’ Walkin’and Horace Silver’s Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers, both recorded in 1954. The title track of Walkin’ was called “the clarion call of the hard bop movement” by jazz critic Frank Kofsky. Written in the traditional 12-bar blues form, the tune featured trumpet playing from Davis heavily versed in the blues and a new approach to jazz piano from Silver, who favored blues voicings over the fugue-like countermelodies of cool jazz. Read More

 Horace Silver Art Blakey & the Jazz MessengersDonald Byrd

Miles Davis

Sonny Rollins

Bennie Colson

Freddie Hubbard

Hank Mobley

As I read the various articles, I noticed that many of the artists like Miles Davis, Bill Evans and several more can be placed in several of the sub-genres!! In addition, the above table is still not complete, I need to add a couple  more sub-genres including: Cool Jazz/West Coast Jazz, Fusion, and Post Bop!! I’ll try to do that in a second or third post!!

After finishing reading, I went to Spotify and listened to Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers which was one of the albums that started Hard Bop from AllMusic….

In 1954, pianist Horace Silver teamed with drummer Art Blakey to form a cooperative ensemble that would combine the dexterity and power of bebop with the midtempo, down-home grooves of blues and gospel music. The results are what would become known as hard bop, and the Jazz Messengers were one of the leading exponents of this significant era in jazz history. Before Silver’s departure and Blakey’s lifetime of leadership, this first major session by the original Jazz Messengers set the standard by which future incarnations of the group would be measured. Read More

Here is a song from that album that was labeled as “corny”, the classic “The Preacher”  The jazz world still mourning the loss of Horace Silver who passed away on June 18th at the age of 85. RIP Horace!


  1. Robert J. Carmack

    Hey man, loved your blog and your real”jazzed look” to your Blog’s appearance…You have a new follower, Btw, check me on word press also

    1. (Post author)

      I will do that and thanks!

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