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Classical and Neoclassical Jazz series III+, More Background More Theory


Welcome to our final post on the Classical and Neoclassical Jazz Series! In this series of posts, we analyzed 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. Let's start!


In the previous posts of our classical and neoclassical jazz series, we've explored the atmosphere in which the 80s jazz born into. We've analyzed the aspects leading to the birth of neoclassical and classical jazz and their effects on the jazz world. We'll now try to go beyond the surface and try to analyze the two trends from the eyes of a jazz theorist/critic. Don't forget to check them out before reading this post!


In the 80s jazz, neoclassicist and classicist jazz musicians constitute a whole. The central idea and pattern that brings them together is the attempt to view traditional jazz with a modern jazz view (which produced the postmodern jazz). Some musicians tended to create postmodern jazz with a traditional dialogue that uses free-jazz. These musicians used the sound of avant-garde jazz to create a contemporary improvisation. On the other hand, some other musicians based bebop tradition on the new postmodern dialogue they tried to create. This movement was a conservative countertrend to the other group's attempt to identifying free-jazz with the jazz tradition.


Jazz critic/theorist Gary Giddins named this neo-bop movement as a "neoclassic" period. However, this label was misleading and did not reflect the true nature of the movements. , While the other group of musicians' desire to create a contemporary dialogue prevailed this movement's musicians, the mainstream musician in this movement inclined to have a more conservative and retroactive view of modern jazz, deviating from the goal of contemporary synthesis. Therefore, it was clearly more proper to use the term "neoclassic" for the post-free-jazz ecole, and "classic" for the contemporary neo-bop movement.