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The Small Combos
unison played by the horns; the harmonic departures of bop were stated directly by the pianist, but only inferentially by the horns.
Gillespie and Parker were dealt with in detail in their respective instrumental CHAPTERs. The unison bop approach to combo jazz initiated by them has endured firmly and can be heard today in the "lines" (i.e., compositions played in unison as the first and last chorus of an otherwise improvised performance) used by the Jazz Messengers and many other groups of this type. The style was also extended in the late 1940s to the use of one or two horns with a human voice in unison. Charlie Ventura, the country's most popular combo leader in 1947-9, led a series of groups, first with Buddy Stewart as the bop singer, later with Jackie Cain and Roy Krai, in unison with his own tenor saxophone and sometimes with other horns.
An offshoot of bop was the George Shearing Quintet, one of the most widely imitated groups of its kind. Organized early in 1949, it featured piano, guitar and vibraphone, playing in unison on the original instrumental numbers and in harmony on the slower-tempoed ballads. Though Shearing and the other soloists were capable bop musicians, the brand of music they offered, widely acclaimed as a jazz innovation for the first year or two, was later regarded as "commercialized bop" and appeals today mainly to popular-music audiences, having outgrown its original jazz appeal. In recent years Shearing has modified the combo's original sound with the addition of frequent Afro-Cuban percussion effects.
Initiated around the same time as the Shearing group was the series of recording combos under Miles Davis* name on Capitol records. Basically the group involved a small-band offshoot of the Claude Thornhill orchestra of that time, more by coincidence than design. Gil Evans and Gerry Mulligan, both writers for the Thornhill band (Mulligan also played in the sax section for a while) were instrumental, with Davis, in shaping the group, which included such Thornhill sidemen as Junior Collins, French horn; Bill Barber, tuba; Lee Konitz, alto sax, and Joe Shulman, bass.
Only three sessions were recorded, in 1949 and '50, and the group only appeared once in public, for an engagement at the