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Free Fall

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (11 Jan. 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Columbia
  • ASIN: B000026FE5
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 492,272 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This was one of those bands that was just too far ahead of it's time and lasted only about two years as a consequence.

Jimmy Giuffre was a tireless innovator and had recruited Paul Bley and Steve Swallow to form a new free jazz trio. Unfortunately audiences were just not ready for their increasingly uncompromising free jazz. This is not brash or aggressive free jazz but it was just too challenging at the time. In his New York Times obituary of Jimmy Giuffre, Bruce Weber wrote:

"...Mr. Swallow wrote that the group made its last stand at a Bleecker Street coffee house in New York, finally breaking up on a night when each musician earned 35 cents."

The track titles are:

1. Propulsion - 3:08
2. Three We - 4:13
3. Ornothoids - 2:46
4. Dichotomy - 4:00
5. Man Alone - 2:20
6. Spasmodic - 3:29
7. Yggdrasill - 2:34
8. Divided Man - 1:56
9. Primordial Call - 3:26
10.The Five Ways - 2:20
11.Present Notion - 10:22
12.Motion Suspended - 3:44
13.Future Plans - 3:18
14.Past Mistakes - 3:58
15.Time Will Tell - 2:07
16.Let's See - 3:51

Released in 1962 this was an album that few flocked to buy at the time, however, despite the almost universal disinterest that greeted the band at the time, this album has come to be regarded as one of the most important in jazz for musicians particularly. It explores collective improvisation that was way of its time and equalled by few except perhaps Joe Harriott's Free Form recorded England about the same time as this trio formed and was greeted with equal confusion, disinterest and hostility.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Recorded in 1962, 'Free Fall' put the kibosh on Jimmy Giuffre's recording career for nearly 10 years. Condemned for not being 'real' jazz, Columbia responded by deleting the album after several months; unbelievably, it remained out of print until 1995. Unlike the tumultuous outpourings on most free jazz LPs of the 1960s (Trane, Ayler, Taylor et al), 'Free Fall' was a velvet revolution - and all the more shocking for it. Giuffre abandoned time, key and metre in search of a largely non-idiomatic, freely improvised music of exceptional subtlety, delicacy, precision, spatial awareness and restraint. You hang on every nuance of expression. Giuffre's radical solo clarinet improvisations presage the equally radical solo soprano saxophone work of Evan Parker, while his duos and trios with Paul Bley and Steve Swallow are models of clarity and sensitivity that explore a previously uncharted terrain somewhere between abstract improvisation and avant-garde chamber music. And it still sounds utterly modern.

It seems churlish to quibble about a masterpiece like 'Free Fall', but the sound recording even in this remastered version raises certain issues that become especially apparent if you listen to the music on headphones. The pre-echo and post-echo are more than a tad noticeable and leave me wondering if, given the wonders of modern digital studio technology (and if this was an album by Trane or Ornette), these slight nuisances could have been isolated and removed for all eternity; one imagines/hopes that Manfred Eicher of ECM who reissued Giuffre's nearly equally jawdropping 'Fusion' and 'Thesis' of 1961 would have addressed these issues if he had been given the opportunity. Anyway, don't let these little things put you off.
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Format: Audio CD
This sounds more like free improvisation than free jazz. True, Steve Swallow occasionally plays a walking line and Bley interpolates some Bill Evans-like flourishes, but for the most part 'Freefall' is the sound of jazz stepping out of the blues idiom and into something radically alien and beautiful.

Giuffre overblows and splits notes, throws down sheets of arpeggios - but this isn't Coltrane on a clarinet. Rather, the focus on timbre - on the material sound of his instrument - aligns him with improvisors such as Derek Bailey and Evan Parker. Similarly, the sparse arrangements; sudden changes in tempo and volume; the leaps across huge intervals recall the music of the serialists - especially Webern. Some listeners may even detect Feldman in 'Freefall''s echoing spaces.
There's no doubt that this is a challenging album and it's not hard to understand why it met with so little success in 1962 - but today Giuffre's language sounds extraordinarily fresh and vital - as if he'd discovered an unmined musical seam that still hasn't fully been explored today. The 1961 ECM Jimmy Giuffre 3 set is perhaps slightly more accessible. Those of you with money to burn might want to track down the live 'Emphasis & Flight' cd on hatology - currently only available second-hand at a price.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Excellent album - arrived quickly, as described.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars 13 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars twelve tonality meets jazz 25 Jun. 2000
By p dizzle - Published on
Format: Audio CD
mr. giuffre took a hard left turn as the 1960s opened making him almost unrecognizable to his original fans (he was part of woody herman's thundering herd and has a single enshrined in the grammy hall of fame), exploring european classical structures and sound in general, much like cecil taylor, ornette coleman, and, later, john coltrane. on this record, we hear the experiment in its fullest expression: tension building silences, two and three note conversations in the trio format, angular rhythms and spiky tonalities. each piece unfolds with each note played, drawing the listener in, but it requires attention. this is not background music, this must be LISTENED to for it make its impact. mr. bley continues to reval his avant-cool expression of the '50s and '60s and the real treasure here is steve swallow-- an early example of his bass meisterwork. this is an enjoyable free jazz work with highlights being the clarinet solo pieces (ornothoids, divided man, man alone) and the long piece 'five ways'which really lets us hear the trio at work. a fascinating gem from the early free jazz period.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars penultimate clarinet musings from the master 8 Oct. 1998
By Derek Taylor - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This album is all the evidence necessary to secure giuffre's place as the genius who pioneered the clarinet's place as a valid free jazz voice. "FREE FALL" takes the massive advancements made by the triumvirate of giuffre, bley & swallow on earlier (& equally essential) ablums such as, "THESIS" & "FUSION" to the nth degree of creativity. Comprised of duos, trios & a multitude of sublime solo clarinet reflections this disc is a pleasure from the first plaintive strains of 'propulsion' to the closing whispers of 'let's see'...but don't take my word for it, do your ears a favor & pick-up this far-reaching slice of avant chamber jazz & see where everyone from anthony braxton to perry robinson first got their chops.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning! It should be more famous 21 Feb. 2008
By lexo1941 - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I came to this album as a fan of free jazz (and indeed free improvisation) who was chiefly interested in Jimmy Giuffre because he'd played with Jim Hall, a mainstream jazz guitarist whose work I love. I read the back of the CD with a certain amount of surprise, as I'd never heard Giuffre's stuff and assumed on the basis of descriptions I'd read of his work that he was a fairly mainstream figure.

Imagine my surprise. 'Free Fall' is nothing less than one of the most ground-breaking and brilliant recordings in jazz, an essential counterpart to other more famous (and equally fine) contemporary ventures into pure improvisation like Ornette Coleman's 'Free Jazz' and John Coltrane's 'Ascension'. Giuffre's album sounds nothing like either of those great recordings, but it is no less intense, imaginative and ahead of its time.

The clarinet is an instrument that I normally associate with older jazz, apart of course from the bass clarinet of the late great Eric Dolphy, and Giuffre's playing here is a revelation (at least, to me). His attention to timbre and tone is acute. Some of this music reminds me (in a good way) of the chamber music of one of my favourite modern composers, Anton Webern. Paul Bley and Steve Swallow provide forward-thinking and acute accompaniment on a good number of the cuts, but I think that this is really Giuffre's record. He summons up a huge variety of moods from the humble clarinet.

This CD has changed my mental picture of the history of jazz. It ought to be on anyone's top 10 list of great avant-jazz recordings of the 60s. Not to be missed.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A strange musical exploration worth investigation 24 Feb. 2003
By Robert Howard - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is one of those albums which, before you can be truly critical of it, you must understand what it is.
This album was made with the understanding that some, indeed maybe large chunks, may not "work", or that it may only appeal or connect with small numbers of people. When reviewed with this understanding in mind I must give it 4 stars; the album is a unique direction in free jazz; the jazz rhythm section was very much still a part of free jazz at this point and the idea of taking more of a "Euro" approach, with a chamber "ensemble" idea (and henceforth removing the pulsating drums), is an interesting one.
It has always been easy for me to detect whether free music is just self indulgent junk or intelligently crafted sound sculpture, and this one is firmly in the latter category. In the lp notes, Swallow discusses the long rehearsals and the intensity of them. You can hear the results of this hard work in the album.
However this album stops just short of total perfection for my taste; I think that the group should have been exploited far more; "The Five Ways" works so much better than the solo clarinet improvisations; the solo things are fine, but the balance between those and the ensemble numbers are not quite where they should be.
However, this sort of problem always exists with records that try to reinvent the musical wheel, so this is certainly forgiveable; had the group stayed on longer in the sixties they probably would have had records that would develop on what worked so well on Free Fall.
Still, this album is a classic; as a composer and guitarist there is much for me to learn from Giuffre's unique approach.
5.0 out of 5 stars jimmy giuffre - free fall 22 Jan. 2014
By rmager - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have several of his.....this is my favorite. Great will take you away. You even forget it is avant garde. To me it's just music, great music. I wish he would have stayed in this vain. Great players, each play well with each other. Just great music. I forget I'm even listening to music with this cd. Time just passes away as you are caught in a trance.
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