Mid-20th Century Transitions in Jazz
Context and History
In the mid-20th century, numerous styles were popular, including hard bop, soul jazz, and cool. Some compositions marked a return to the blues, gospel, and soul roots of jazz, such as Bobby Timmons’s “Moanin’” and Horace Silver’s compositions (including “The Preacher”). At the same time, stylists such as Erroll Garner, Hazel Scott, and Ahmad Jamal popularized the music, treating popular songs as jazz compositions with subtle variations on the melody and extended improvisations at the core. The accomplished Trinidadian pianist Scott, furthermore, was known for “swinging the classics.”
Notably, whites such as the English pianists Marian McPartland and George Shearing, tenor saxophonists Stan Getz and John “Zoot” Sims, and the most successful of the time, pianist Dave Brubeck, popularized the music and enriched and broadened the range of choice. The advent of white-American, Canadian, West Indian, and Japanese musicians indicated the extent to which the music had become internationally famous, attracting artists from throughout the world. The US State Department capitalized on the music’s popularity by sending jazz bands to foreign capitals of Europe and Asia to promote US culture and to advertise the nation’s democratic values.