In the vast universe, everything possesses both a dark and a light side. This concept is widely discussed, even in fantasy television shows, and it extends to music as well. If fast and light jazz exists, it follows that slow and dark jazz must also be present. Some accounts suggest that dark jazz emerged about fifty years after the inception of its lighter counterpart.
While dark jazz is not universally popular in modern times, it has a dedicated and passionate fan base. Miles Davis’ 1958 album, Ascenseur pour l’échafaud, is widely believed to mark the birth of dark jazz, although its origins remain uncertain.
Simultaneously, in 1989, Mark Sandman’s band “Morphine” made its debut in Newton, Massachusetts. The band stood out from its contemporaries by featuring two baritones, one for vocals and one for saxophone, and a two-string bass instead of a guitar.
Morphine described their sound as low rock, but their deeply melancholic music typically resembled jazz noir. The band occasionally played blues and was anything but lazy.
Bohren & der Gore ClubIn 1992, the German band Bohren & der Club of Gore ushered in a new era, marking the current phase and apex of the style’s evolution.
Contrary to popular belief, the quintet did not invent the style, but rather popularized it. Before adopting darker and slower tones in their music, they played hardcore with numerous German bands.
The Dale Cooper Quartet and Dictaphones
Following Bohren & the Club of Gore, The Dale Cooper Quartet & the Dictaphones have risen to prominence in the global dark jazz scene. The band made its debut in the French city of Brest in the twenty-first century.
In the first collaboration, Sunn O))) performed all tasks politely but with a detached demeanor. In the second, they combined their guitar hum with music by Coltrane, creating jazz suitable for a funeral at the intersection of two eras.
The jazz artists passed away in 1967, and the musicians chose not to alter the fundamental structure of the tunes, but instead to put their guitar buzz over top.
Jazz, which is funereal and mortal, is inconceivable without sorrow and a consciousness of mortality. Although it may seem trite, dark jazz music is evocative. Its allure can engulf the listener, induce drowsiness, and induce tranquility.