Jazz 100
Hard Bop
The Best Jazz Ever Released Digitally


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A Night at Birdland (Vol. 1)
Art Blakey Quintet
1954 [Blue Note]


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Birdland played host to jazz history in the making in February 1954 when drummer Art Blakey's quintet showcased music that would go on to define the hard bop style. Something memorable was on the cards with a lineup that included trumpeter Clifford Brown, Horace Silver's piano and Lou Donaldson on alto. Volume 2 is almost as good.





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Study in Brown
Clifford Brown and Max Roach
1955 [EmArcy]


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Brown took the trumpet to new melodic heights the like of which had never been heard before and rarely since. This hard bop date with Max Roach established Brown as a force to be reckoned with and - despite dying tragically in a car accident the following year - an influential figure in the jazz world. Every note is played to perfection.





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Saxophone Colossus
Sonny Rollins
1956 [Prestige]


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New kid on the block Rollins was an original from the start. This early record is a jazz masterpiece. Classic original compositions 'St. Thomas' and 'Blue Seven' bookend three other fine tunes, highlighted by drummer Max Roach and pianist Tommy Flanagan faultlessly plying their crafts. Overall, there isn't a wasted moment in sight.





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Somethin' Else
Cannonball Adderley
1958 [Blue Note]


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Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's albums from the late-50s all had one thing common - a great supporting cast. In this case the backup includes Miles Davis on trumpet and pianist Hank Jones, with Sam Jones and drummer Art Blakey driving the rhythm section. A true classic of hard bop, the remastered CD release sports an extra track.





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We Three
Roy Haynes
1958 [New Jazz]


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Drummer Roy Haynes gets the leader credit on this delightfully easy-going hard bop set. Seasoned pianist Phineas Newborn also shines, bringing an up-tempo approach to almost everything he does. He also contributes 'Sugar Ray', an ode to boxer Sugar Ray Robinson. Bassist Paul Chambers rounds out the trio, doing his usual solid job in support.





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Blues Walk
Lou Donaldson
1958 [Blue Note]


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Donaldson's Blues Walk has found favour with modern audiences simply because of its listenability. Here the altoist consciously adopts the Blue Note label's mastery of groovin' hard bop. The highlights are the three Donaldson originals, including the marvelous title track. The slow and pensive 'Autumn Nocturne' is also a standout.





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Moanin'
Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers
1958 [Blue Note]


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Drummer Blakey's third incarnation of the Messengers is generally considered the best, despite the fact tenor Benny Golson only lasted a few months with the group. Band members contribute most of the tunes, including the hit title track by pianist Bobby Timmons. Trumpeter Lee Morgan - still only 20 - continues his march to stardom.





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Blues-ette
Curtis Fuller
1959 [Savoy]


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Trombonist Curtis Fuller is perhaps best remembered as a sideman in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, as well as a host of other genre luminaries. This time around it is tenor Benny Golson doing the main support and contributing two fine compositions, altough it is certainly Fuller's hard boppin' title track that is the clear standout.





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True Blue
Tina Brooks
1960 [Blue Note]


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True Blue is a an unheralded gem in the Blue Note hard bop catalogue. Brooks pens all but one composition and adroitly points his tenor sax in the right melodic directions. Young trumpeter Freddie Hubbard is nothing but incredible in support, with pianist Duke Jordan, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Art Taylor rounding out the bill.


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