Essay Chapter 10

Submitted By shsh2010
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Berkeley City College
Music 15A Jazz, Blues and Popular Music in America
Jazz Styles
Chapter 10: Cool Jazz
1. The Style of Cool
a. A style that developed in the late 1940’s and into the 1950’s was cool jazz. Cool jazz in contrast to bebop is generally softer in timbre, less angular in melody, less busy, avoids roughness or “brassiness,” relies more heavily on sophisticated chord arrangements, and often uses softer toned instruments like the flugelhorn,
French horn and tuba.
b. Cool was the most significant modern jazz alternative to bop.
c. Cool is also a popular style on the west coast in the 1950’s, and is sometimes referred to as “West Coast.”
d. Improvisation is still a key element in cool and many of the artists known as cool players were immensely skilled improvisers.
2. Lennie Tristano and Lee Konitz
a. Lennie Tristano was a pianist, composer and arranger who popularized this new sound in the late 1940. He was also a leading jazz educator.
b. He was a dazzling improviser at the piano, using complex harmonies and unique rhythmic figures in his playing. c. Tristano was one of the first jazz composers to regard the works of the classical masters. He used harmonies and textures reminiscent to great classical composers. He readily studied J. S. Bach’s (18th century) music and had his students study his works as well.
d. The contours of Tristano’s lines were smoother and less jumpy than those of the bop players’.
e. Tristano focused more on music education later in his career and had many students who carried on his style. One of those students was alto saxophonist Lee Konitz.
f. Konitz was a spectacularly skilled player. His improvisations were more legato (using longer tones rather than short, choppy sounds) than the bebop players.
g. His sound was airy and warm, he used the higher register of the instrument without sounding harsh, and his tone was soft in texture and light in weight.
h. Konitz’s sound constituted a new trend in jazz saxophone by the late 1940’s.
Listen to “No Figs” 1950
Note the lighter sound of the orchestra, even though the lines are complex and fast. Note the airy tone of the instruments and the soloists.
Note the complex harmonies and melodies of Tristano’s piece, and the complex, yet cool improvisations of Konitz,
Getz and the others.
3. “The Birth of the Cool”
a.
Claude Thornhill was a bandleader who used these more orchestral sounds and complex harmonies in his band.
b.
Miles Davis and Gil Evans formed a group in 1949 using some of Thornhill’s band members for some recording sessions.
c.
The group’s focus was to lighten the sound, and use a more orchestral tone in some swing tunes.
d.
The group instrumentation included French horn, tuba and baritone saxophone.
e.
Neither Davis nor Evans called the band or the recording sessions “The Birth of the Cool,” but writers would later give the recordings that name.
f.
The group featured Miles Davis on trumpet, Lee Konitz on alto saxophone, and Gerry Mulligan on baritone saxophone.
Listen to “Boplicity”1949
Note the lighter sound of the orchestra, even though the lines are complex and fast. Note the airy tone of the instruments and the soloists.
4. West Coast Styles of the 1950’s

Berkeley City College
Music 15A Jazz, Blues and…