The Dark Side: A History of and Focus on Significant Dark Jazz Groups

Everything in the universe has both a dark and a light side. Even fantasy television programs discuss this. This concept applies to music as well. And if there is rapid and bright jazz, there must be quiet and somber jazz as well. According to one account, dark jazz originated about half a century after the birth of its “father”.

Although some first-wave performers may have begun playing lengthy, reflective, and funeral-jazz pieces earlier, they were not regarded seriously by their peers.

Popular Dark Jazz Artists

Miles Davis

Even in modern times, dark jazz is not widely popular, but it has a strong and devoted fan base. The album Ascenseur pour l’échafaud by Miles Davis, which was released in 1958, was most likely the beginning of the genre, but no one knows for sure.

It was the first film to include slow rhythms and noises, a noir-style score, and a sluggish tragedy. The CD is the music for the French black-and-white drama thriller “Elevator to the Scaffold.” Its ambience and narrative are fairly congruent with the aesthetics of contemporary dark jazz.

When one examines the history of the musicians of those years, it becomes evident why the style originated during this period. Back then, the name “jazz” evoked fear and was connected with drugs among the civilian classes.

Angelo Badalamenti

Then the 1970s came along with disco and funk. Heroin didn’t really go anywhere, but everyone began dancing and having fun, and the pattern stopped for almost two decades. The Funeral evolved into metal and electronic music, and so on, until Angelo Badalamenti began collaborating with David Lynch.

He composed the music for the 1986 film Blue Velvet and the 1990 film Twin Peaks. Badalamenti poured a great deal of effort into all of that strangeness and scary ridiculousness. It is not for nothing that dark jazz artists are now often speculating on the narrative of Laura Palmer.

In addition to producing mystifying films, David Lynch also composes experimental blues music. In 1992 and 1993, the filmmaker and his close friend, Badalamenti, made a collaborative album, which was only known to fans of their work until recently.

The project and record were both named Thought Gang. A quarter of a century later, the Sacred Bones label chose to release the album. “Woodcutters From Fiery Ships” is now available.


And at the same time, in 1989, Mark Sandman’s band “Morphine” debuted in Newton, Massachusetts. It was different from other bands because it had two baritones, which were vocals and a saxophone, and a two-string bass instead of a guitar.

The band referred to their sound as low rock. Overall, though, all that profound sorrow seemed like jazz noir. They were not always sluggish and sometimes played blues.

Everyone, from artists to reviewers, journalists, and fans, continues to discuss their impact on the international music industry. In 1999, the band disbanded due to the death of the lead singer. Morphine deserves its tale, but it would be sacrilegious not to include it in a piece on one of the darkest aspects of jazz.

Bohren & der Gore Club

In 1992, the German band Bohren & der Club of Gore marked the beginning of a new period, the current stage, and the culmination of the style’s development.

Contrary to common belief, they are not the originators of the style, but rather its popularizers. Before adopting gloomy and slowed-down tones in their music, the quintet performed hardcore with many German bands.

Midway through the 1990s, the guitarist departed, and the band developed a very recognizable sound. The guitar was replaced with a saxophone, and the pitch grew even more ambient and gloomy. Thus, Bohren & der Club of Gore became a trio, with whom they are now travelling.

The Dale Cooper Quartet and Dictaphones

The Dale Cooper Quartet & the Dictaphones are next in line to dominate the global drag scene after Bohren & der Club of Gore. The band debuted in the twenty-first century in the French city of Brest.

You may hear the velvety voices of Galle Kerrien and Zalie Bellacicco on their respective CDs. Interestingly, the voice is an uncommon occurrence in gloomy jazz pieces.

Sunn O)))

Sunn O))) – a band which is genuinely on the brink of power ambient and drone – made two strong and highly dense releases: “Terrestrials” with the Norwegians Ulver, and “Co)))ltrane”. Nick Dropkick, an electronic adventurer, helped them succeed.

In the first trial, Sunn O))) performed all tasks in a polite but aloof manner. In the second, they combined their guitar hum with music by Coltrane. It was jazz for a funeral, but at the crossroads of two eras.

The jazz artist 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 that is funerary and mortal is inconceivable without sorrow and a consciousness of mortality. Although it seems trite, dark jazz music is evocative. Its allure may engulf the listener, induce drowsiness, and induce tranquility.

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