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Jazz historiography is replete with a variety of contradictions and points of departure among those who write about jazz, critics and historians alike. Because jazz is a relatively new genre in musicological terms, the conversation among musicologists writing about jazz has been relatively myopic only until very recently. One of the most dynamic and significant developmental moments in this history is connected with the origins of what is commonly referred to as the modern jazz era. This moment, associated with the development of bebop as a clearly defined style, has been the subject of much discourse in terms of origins, specific figures involved and consequences within the jazz genre as a whole. Furthermore, new perspectives and approaches to understanding the origins of modern jazz are continually added to the conversation. This article seeks to summarize the prominent approaches to understanding the development of modern jazz, and address points of disagreement and outright dissension among these approaches. This study will explore the main points of the arguments for considering the development of modern jazz as evolution or revolution and seek to identify a reasonable discourse that helps define the functions and figures important in this transition.