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Classical and Neoclassical Jazz Series II, The Birth of the Classical

Welcome to our second post on the Classical and Neoclassical Jazz Series! In this series of posts, we will analyze the emergence of classical and neoclassical jazz in the 80s, from the point of view of a jazz critic using Berendt and Huesmann’s The Jazz Book as our reference.

In the previous post of the classical and neoclassical jazz series, we talked about the latest developments in 80s jazz and how it called forth the birth of neoclassical jazz. If you didn’t read it, don’t forget to check that post before swiping right! It is not a surprise that the birth of classical coincides with the neoclassical trends in contemporary jazz. It is because classical jazz was a countertrend for neoclassical jazz, meaning it was a trend as to respond and oppose neoclassical jazz.

Classical jazz was pretty much a continuation of neo-bop jazz. It is easy to state what neo-bop musicians developed during the 70s, they renewed and recreated bebop jazz. Classical jazz musicians followed the same path, along with the admiration of their audience. Along with its obvious difference from neoclassical jazz and free jazz, the musicians of the trend considered themselves as “heirs” of bebop music. It is also important to mention that classical jazz embedded many new contemporary elements like modality, tempo shifts, and freer forms.

These implementations identified with classical jazz. The idea behind this opposition to neoclassical jazz has its root in basic questions about jazz and jazz history. What is jazz? What is the root of modern jazz? While neoclassical jazz musicians and theorists answered this question with free jazz, classical jazz musicians’ answer was the good old bebop jazz. This was the whole idea behind classical jazz which brings together all classicist musicians.

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