Dark Jazz – Popular Artists

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.

Although early musicians may have started playing lengthy, introspective, and somber jazz pieces, their work was not taken seriously by their contemporaries.

Notable Artists

Miles Davis

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.

The album, which serves as the soundtrack for the French black and white thriller “Elevator to the Scaffold,” features slow rhythms, noise, and a noir-style score accompanied by a languid sense of tragedy. The ambiance and narrative align closely with contemporary dark jazz aesthetics.


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.

Artists, critics, journalists, and fans continue to discuss Morphine’s impact on the international music industry. Following the death of the lead singer in 1999, the band disbanded.

Bohren & der Gore Club

In 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.

In the mid-1990s, the guitarist departed, and the band developed a highly recognizable sound. A saxophone replaced the guitar, and the music became even more ambient and dark. This transformation led to the formation of the trio known as Bohren & der Club of Gore, which continues to perform today.

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.

Their CDs feature the velvety voices of Galle Kerrien and Zalie Bellacicco, a rarity in dark jazz pieces.

Sunn O)))

Sunn O))), a band that blurs the boundaries between power ambient and drone, has released two dense and potent albums: “Terrestrials” with Norway’s Ulver and “Co)))ltrane”, with the help of electronic adventurer Nick Dropkick.

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.


Without analogies, literary parallels and abstract descriptions, dark jazz would not exist. When people think of dark jazz, they usually picture a dark street, old cars, fog, and thick smoke.

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.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments