The 80s and the Reinterpretation of Jazz

It’s considered that in the 80s the history of Jazz had reached a point where all the basic trends were consolidated. The 70s drove to the rise of what is considered the last new style of Jazz since its beginning, at the end of the 19th century.

Jazz in the 80s

So, what’s going to happen now? A creative pause? A continuous repetition of the things already listened until exhaustion?

Of course not! In the approximately eight decades of history of Jazz, no one has played “the last definitive note” of each style. And indeed, in the first place, the 80s were characterized by the reinterpretation of “old” styles of Jazz by young musicians.

Undoubtedly, the 80s represents a fruitful and innovative decade, just like the previous ones. Along with many crucial innovations in the world of digital technology, which will have an enormous impact on both live performances and recording studios, it should also be noted that it significantly increases the number of Jazz concerts programmed with a stylistic variety.

Now musicologists talk about a neoclassical jazz. To the point that a wave of new groups of Swing, Bebop and Hard Bop (AKA “Neo-Bop”, “Postbop” or “Modern Bebop”) reinterpret the famous classics of these styles. It’s considered that these musicians did nothing but a copy, this is a nonsense because although an old style is played, these versions are made from the perspective of now.

There is something about the moment that will give a different touch that makes a Bebop played in the 80s a distinctively 80’s experience. In addition, it’s the basic purpose of Jazz musicians to always look for innovation, however small it may be.

It should also be mentioned that musicians are increasingly prepared in every way: musically and technically. Some of the modern Bebop recordings made in the 80s exceeded their original counterparts in virtuosity and finesse.

Aside from this approach, there are other musicians who develop their music in a liberal way, keeping alive the spark of jazz fusion and free jazz. Within the new Bebop arises, for example, a new creation:

The Free-Bop, which, as the name suggests, mixes elements of Free-Jazz with Bebop. Some musicians of this current are Barry Altschul, Arthur Blythe, Oliver Lake, Dewey Redman, and Julius Hemphill. The World Saxophone Quartet group is also associated with the Free-Bop although it goes much further, incorporating even older elements of New Orleans Jazz along with modern styles and sounds.

Another new trend is the Free Funk, an eighties trend led by the musicians James “Blood” Ulmer and the groups Decoding Society, Dizzazz and Defunkt. Advancing to our days, the history of Jazz becomes more and more a long list of individual musicians with their respective discographies full of stylistic contrasts.

For the non-initiated music lover, therefore, means not to let be influenced by the first impression of a specific record of a musician, until you’re taking the trouble to compare different moments of the career of the artist before judging, differences between records of the same jazz artist can be massive.