Jazz On The Web: The HardBop Homepage

Every once in a while it's nice to crank up the sound machine, throw in some hard bop and wind through some of the most exciting turns in jazz. I was indulging myself in this delight the other day and, as the music played, I decided to do a little Internet research.

With the luck of the experienced surfer, I stumbled upon The Hard Bop Homepage at http://members.tripod.com/~hardbop/index.html. For the bop fan who believes that this music hasn't yet run its course, here is a stripped-down trove of bop lore, discographies, biographies and other goodies that will delight, entertain and enlighten.

One section of the site, titled "The Music," provides a list that purports to be the top 100 hard bop albums of all time. While the page offers no criteria for making this selection, I didn't find myself in much disagreement with the chosen recordings. Also, artist, title, date and label are provided for those fans -- and among jazz aficionados they are legion -- who have the archivist's impulse.

Fans of hard bop may be surprised to note that the list encompasses recordings right up through the end of the 20th century, so any notion that bop is dead can be left at the door. Some of the newer artists are unfamiliar to me, but based upon the obvious taste shown in making the selection of the top 100, I am looking forward to investigating their work in search of new treasures.

In addition, there are hyperlinks to the musicians' biographies and to liner information from individual albums.

The "What's New" section of the site steers the curious in the direction of new releases and reissues of old favorites, in addition to several discographical sites with a bop theme, and even a mystery novel!
"The Musicians" section, however, is a necessary stop for surfers in search of information about the artists who developed, maintained and made new this incredibly exciting subgenre of jazz. Chock full of links to other sites, each essay is an invitation to roam vast corridors of information. It is a fun way to get a quick education in bop, as well as to learn about musicians whose names may not leap readily to mind.

The site also provides links to other places on the Internet where the curious may find homepages devoted to individual musicians, their work, their influence and other nuggets of information that will round out the experience of even the newest of newcomers to the bop idiom.

Eric B. Olsen, author of the aforementioned jazz-themed novel, "Proximal To Murder," is the man to thank for this very useful web site. His biography tells us he is a high school history teacher and is at work on a history of jazz as well as a biography of a jazz pianist whom he does not name. However, based upon his choices in the hard bop genre, I look forward to his insights.