Avant-garde jazz of the 1940's, and the foundation for subsequent eras. Added a little rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic complexity to the conventions of swing-era jazz - and a lot of people didn't get it as a result. Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Max Roach, and Kenny Clarke were some of the movers and shakers of the era, which marked the beginning of the end for jazz as a mass-market dance music. Good.

A subgenre of jazz typically played by groups of 3 to 5 musicians ("combos") and typically charactarized by radically altered chords and phrases, wildly creative improvisational flights, great complexity, and a sound that can be intimidating to unfamiliar ears.

By the early 1940s, those who had come of age during a time when jazz had been immensely popular were beginning to come into their own as musicians; in the typical fashion of 20th century art, they took what they were familiar with and greatly expanded its scope, depth, and intensity. In a gradual development that took place mostly on small club stages, swing in the hands of geniuses like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie became Bop.

Of course, the development didn't seem gradual to the public, mostly because the years of bebop's inception were those of World War II, a time during which a recording ban had been instituted to conserve scarce resources (update: someone told me this was wrong; disregard it). A few Cats heard the music throughout its development, but everyone else encountered it suddenly in 1945, and while it spread like wildfire among musicians (who played it to the exclusion of almost all previous jazz), for many others the leap was too great -- the unfamiliar harmonies seemed dissonant, the unfamiliar rhythms tense and jittery.

It was the beginning of the end for jazz in the United States. Through the 1950s and '60s the genre continued on the path bebop had set, becoming more and more incomprehensible to most people, who were listening to Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles. Today, only 4% of all records sold in the U.S. are jazz, and many large cities (Washington, D.C., for example) have not a single station on the dial that plays it (though I'm proud to report that my town has 2 -- WEMU and WCBN). In Europe (and Japan), however, Jazz has remained popular, and thousands gather yearly for summer jazz festivals in cities around the continent, listening to largely American musicians play largely American music.

The Bebop is a large, seaworthy space vessel, that houses the characters of the excellent anime serial Cowboy Bebop. Jet Black bought it second hand on Ganymede and since then he has spent plenty of time fixing it up, and repairing it after myriad scuffles.

The ship itself is a large, brassy monohull (similar in shape to a 1940s flying boat) with two horizontal pylon/wings housing the ailerons. At the end of each pylon is an engine which suspends each rudder. The expansive upper deck will safely park the Swordfish II and the Redtail with room left over for Faye to sun bathe. For space travel the smaller craft can be stowed in hangar amidships. A rotating innerhull provides artificial gravity during spaceflight. The main bridge sits atop the hangar permiting a wide view all around the craft. Finally, the technical information follows:

Bebop

Class: Fishing Boat
ISPD: 123651
Designation: STSSD-31(61B)
Duration: 6935 days
Launch weight: 1,567,772 kg
Launch length: 142.7 m
Armaments:
  1. Powerhand x 2
  2. Rocketanchor x 2
Shipplane:
  1. Swordfish II (mono racer)
  2. Hammerhead (mono boat)
  3. Redtail (mono carrier)

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All information gleaned from backgrounds and terminal screens in the anime.

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