While cool was gaining popularity on the West Coast, the black musicians on the East Coast were active, too. They made bop accessible to the large ensemble, enriched its forms, mastered its vocabulary and became apprentices to new rhythms. By the mid-fifties, they had developed a hardened tone, drawing from blues and gospel in order to preserve the specific characteristics of African- American music.
The trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie started his career in big bands and did not hesitate to let the first sounds of bebop be heard there, sometimes under the glare of his bandleaders. In 1946 he formed his own big band, in which some of the best-known names played, and he created a sensation by incorporating Afro-Cuban elements into his music. Indeed, contacts between American jazz musicians and those hailing from Cuba and Puerto Rico - many of whom had been in New york since the thirties - multiplied in this decade. In this way, jazz musicians broadened their rhythmic habits and explored new ways of exploring the beat.