The term 'hard bop' gained currency only in the late-1950s, but
it had become a recognisable jazz form by the mid-1950s. Two of
its leading lights were Art Blakey
and Max Roach, both drummers and both,
significantly, bandleaders: hard bop took
on the mantle of bebop
but added to it structure and organisation, a response
perhaps to the ever moving line-up changes that were prevalent within
the small jazz combo.
Hard bop was also a correction to some
bebop habits: melodies became more memorable and straightforward,
virtuosity was less to the fore. Unison head arrangements were replaced
with harmonised lines and counter melodies; soulful, blues and modal
inflections, often in minor keys, relied more on more repetitive,
rhythmically-derived bass lines, and more interactive drumming.
Hard bop came to possess some of the simpler traits of more popular
music - the jump bands of the 1930s or the emerging metropolitan
sound of rhythm and blues, although bands drew less on popular songs
as a basis for composition and began to
rely more on repertoire composed within, and exclusive to, the group.
Medium tempos were the order of the day, and even in fast numbers
there was rarely the cluttered, raucous sound of the early boppists.
Davis and Charles Mingus, two dominating
figures of the jazz world, employed hard bop devices but were never
tied to its apron springs. Horace Silver,
Art Blakey, Clifford
Brown, Sonny Rollins and Cannonball
Adderley, all of whom led or belonged to succesful small combo
groups in the 1950s, grew to inhabit a larger orbit of jazz experience,
and in time the sound of hard bop became
cliched and overworked.