Finally, in the post-War era, jazz had become an art form and not simply an instrument of low/pop culture. However, bebop was too abstract and improvised for many not only in the 1950s but also today. Some forms of jazz still have popular appeal, despite the near 60 years that have passed since their recording. Cool jazz is one of few jazz movements that retain popular appeal even today; its enduring quality seems to be in the perfect mean it finds between the artfulness of bebop and the catchiness of pre-War Swing jazz.
Cool jazz is said to have begun during the Second World War, during which predominantly white Californian jazz musicians migrated to New York City, where they integrated with bebop styles being played in the clubs such as Milton’s Playhouse. Many of these musicians were trained and educated in formal schools. The Californian styles tended to mediate the sharp edges of traditional bebop, and created a new fusion of approaches to arrangements in the jazz composition. Bringing back this emphasis on arrangements harkened back to the old days of Swing jazz (Giola 51), when big bands required knowledge of the song’s form across the different instrument sections. Although cool jazz did not reintroduce the concept of the big band to the mainstream, what it did do was reemphasize the need for consistent instrumentation across performances, and lessening the need for elaborate improvisations.
But nailing down a definition of Cool jazz, and jazz in general, seems to be a futile practice. As Ted Giola writes, “Jazz writers learned long ago, for example, that it is almost impossible to come up with a good, succinct, widely accepted definition of jazz itself” (Giola 360). Coming up with definitions, that is, is a waste of time because art grows organically through changes in its shape and texture, independent of critics’ generalizations. Because it