Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Complexity of the Bebop Language

Playing bebop convincingly is pretty hard. It requires both talent and hard work. It usually takes a number of years, dedication and motivation to develop a jazz voice that is worth listening to. And IMHO, without a really healthy dose of talent it will be next to impossible to play it on a creative and advanced level, no matter how many hours you put in. It is that hard. So, never take great jazz music or accomplished bebop musicians for granted. Bebop is a pretty demanding language to learn and requires a lot of commitment. If you think that is an elitist view you have clearly never studied it yourself.

I came across this clip on the tube that perfectly addresses the issue of the complexity of the bebop language. I like especially the following quote that is in it: "It took Bill Evans 53 seconds to improvise the following chorus on May 6 1964. In it, there is a lifetime of information to study."

The analysis of the improvised chorus by Bill Evans shows what is meant here. 


  1. i agree with most of what you have written except for one fact, most of the "classic" players for lack of a better term at this time, grew up hearing jazz and bebop. It was their music, there was no rock and roll when many of these guys started playing. That being said, i think they had the advantage of playing "jazz" at an early age, teens at latest. I know there are 10 year olds out there now that kill it in jazz, can't remember his name at the moment. But for the vast majority, especially guitar players now in their late 30's , 40's and 50's, we grew up on rock and roll ... well i assume the vast majority of us... that being said... learning bebop at 30 years old is like learning a new language at that age ... it gets harder the older you get especially if its new so...

    yes i agree with all that you said but the cultural changes in what was popular for guitar players has to be considered ... i can nail a blues solo or a close approximation of a hard rock solo with ease because i grew up on it and copied starting at age 14. Not so with jazz which i did not attempt until 30 or so.

    best regards