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History of Jazz Timeline: 1949

The battle lines form. In the U.S. Bop, Swing, Trad, Cool and Dixieland are being played. Bop is king here.
In Europe, two schools emerge. They are Bop and Trad with the decided advantage going to Trad.
Cool Jazz begins in a series of recordings made by Miles Davis, et al. Many people attach more importance to the "et al" than to Davis. Nevertheless, a nucleus of people from the Claude Thornhill band including Lee Konitz, Bill Barber, Gerry Mulligan, Joe Shulman and Gil Evans apparently arrived at the ideas which led to Cool and then called Davis in as a trumpeter and maybe more importantly, a known name. Songs include Denzil Best's Move, Mulligan's Jeru and Rocker as well as Israel and Boplicity. See the Capitol Jazz CD Miles Davis - Birth of the Cool.
Latin influences become more important in Jazz.
Jerry Wexler, future partner of Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records, persuades his current employer, Billboard, to change the term "Race Records" to "Rhythm and Blues." The term has been replaced occasionally by terms such as "Soul Music", but is currently in vogue again.
The 45 RPM record is introduced by Victor. The first vinyl LP is made.
Charlie Parker takes his first trip overseas. He takes part in the Paris Jazz festival. The new Parker quintet features Parker on alto sax, Al Haig on piano and Red Rodney on trumpet. Listen to the CD's Bird at the Roost - Vol 2 and Vol 4 on Savoy/Vogue.
John Coltrane first appears on record as a member of Dizzy Gillespie's big band, playing alto saxophone. He will stay with Gillespie until 1951, later doubling on tenor sax. During his tenure with Gillespie, Coltrane plays on George Russell's "Cubana-Be, Cubana-Bop," one of the first modal recordings and also a landmark Latin jazz composition.
Ben Webster leaves Ellington again. He moves back to Kansas City to work in the Jay McShann band. In addition, he begins work at this time in pioneering Rhythm and Blues bands playing a new music which might easily be called Rock and Roll. He will eventually work with Johnny Otis and others. An interesting thing appears to be happening, it seems as if many Swing musicians displaced by Bop are working in small bands pioneering Rock and Roll which will eventually totally eclipse Jazz. Talk about irony. See the EmArcy CD The Complete Ben Webster on EmArcy for some examples.
Bud Powell makes recording of Cherokee for Verve which clearly shows the Charlie Parker influences in his playing. Powell has seemingly recovered from his latest bout with depression. He is playing regularly and well, but he is also drinking a lot. During the next two years, he will cut his most important records for Blue Note. These Blue Note recordings will be recognized as masterpieces.
J. J. Johnson is now the premiere trombone player in Jazz.
Bill Evans is attending college at Southeastern Louisiana College. The college is about 100 miles north of New Orleans. Bill is playing piano regularly in a rural juke joint.
Art Blakey returns from Africa. His name is now Abdullah Ibn Buhaina and his work becomes some of the most imaginative in Jazz.
Lenny Tristano group records some unique sides that are closely listened to by Jazz musicians...even musicians that don't like the music. The tunes are Intuition and Digression. The players are Lee Konitz on alto sax, Warne Marsh on tenor sax, Billy Bauer on guitar, a drummer and a bassist. The drummer and bassist are not given much latitude. Tristano is interested in complicated systems of chord changes and he wants to create pure melodic lines with shifting meters or without meter. This music is close to Free Jazz and is 5 to 10 years early.
At the end of the Tristano session above, in May 1949, Tristano tells engineers to leave the mike open. Each instrumentalist plays in a melodic system of his own choice. The Tristano group is playing Free Jazz about ten years before its time and musicians and record company execs are puzzled. The record is not issued for quite some time.
Ornette Coleman gets a job with the Clarence Samuels Rhythm and Blues group. The band goes on tour and Ornette is beaten up in Baton Rouge, La. His sax is destroyed. The reason for the beating is either because the locals think that his music is bizarre or because they are tired of musicians stealing their girls. Time Line Commentary:
Trumpeter Jerry Gonzalez born in New York, NY.
Coleman Hawkins is now out of the vanguard of Jazz. Hawkins was another displaced Swing idol. He was as capable as anyone of understanding Bop harmonics. Since he had been improvising on the chord structure longer than anyone at this point. However, like many Swing musicians, the Bop rhythms completely escaped him.
Roy Eldridge is another displaced Swing giant.
Django Reinhardt, another Swing giant, is bruised and battered. He also finds himself irrelevant due to Bop.
The list goes on and on.
New Orleans trumpeter Bunk Johnson dies. Clarinetist George Lewis emerges as a leader and tours Europe giving more impetus to the Trad movement. Two other important clarinet players come to Europe. They are Sidney Bechet and Mezz Mezzrow.
Charles Delaunay and Hughes Panassie split. Delaunay takes the Bop side and the magazine. Panassie takes the New Orleans side and the Hot Club.
Armstrong goes on European tour.
Cuban bandleader Luis del Campo becomes enamored with Jazz and begins to hire Jazzmen. This is a switch. Usually, it was the Jazz bands which hired cuban musicians. The del Campo band had five rhythm men including three drummers, a piano and a bass.
In February, Machito's drummers sit in with Will Bradley's Dixieland Jazzband and the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald. The result was astonishing and airshots of this session are collector's items.
Norman Granz persuades Oscar Peterson to join the Jazz at the Philharmonic(JATP). The popular style pianist is an instant success.
Albert Ammons dies.
Blues man John Lee Hooker has his first million seller with Boogie Chillun.
Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee by Stick McGhee becomes the first hit on the relatively new Atlantic Records.
Not to be out done, RCA responded with the 45 RPM disc, thus began the battle of the 'speeds' and the death of the 78 RPM.

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Disclaimer: Though we have checked our facts, this timeline may contain erroneous information. If you discover errors or omissions, please bring them to our attention.

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