February 5, 2021

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Bebop 1945-1950: Bop Comes to 52nd St.

February 5, 2021- Today's Bebop Era Topic: Bop Comes to 52nd St.

After the initial incubation period at Minton’s and Monroe’s, bebop came up from underground and into the mainstream when Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Pettiford opened at the Onyx Club in November of 1943. The Onyx Club was one of the well known jazz clubs on New York’s famed 52nd St. which was the unofficial headquarters of the jazz world.

The arrival of modern jazz on 52nd St. sent shockwaves through the jazz press because most people were completely unaware of the radical developments that had taken place over the last couple of years.

The recording ban eliminated anything being recorded during the new music’s development so it was a major surprise when it popped up on the street seemingly out of nowhere.

After that initial engagement at the Onyx,  Dizzy spent a good part of 1944 traveling with Billy Eckstine’s Big Band which included Charlie Parker.  When that came to an end things really started happening.

Charlie Parker made his 52nd St. debut in late 1944 with a trio at The Downbeat Club and both he and Dizzy started recording for several small independent record companies.  Bird recorded as a sideman with Tiny Grimes for Savoy and with Clyde Hart for Continental.  In early 1945, Dizzy Gillespie recorded for the first time as a leader for both Manor Records and Guild. The first two sessions featured a cross section of young modernists mixed with established swing veterans.  Charlie Parker was not involved in those initial dates.  The first Guild date did help introduce Dexter Gordon though who joined Dizzy on the front line.

The “big bang” of modern jazz occurred in April of 1945 when Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie finally came together in Dizzy’s Quintet at The Three Deuces. With that engagement Bebop had arrived.

They recorded together for Guild which produced the first bop classics: Groovin High, Dizzy Atmosphere, Salt Peanuts, Shaw Nuff and Hot House. The controversial new music was now part of the mainstream for all to hear.