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Free Jazz

Free Jazz

1 May 2011
4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 1 May 2011
  • Release Date: 1 May 2011
  • Label: CGH Ventures Inc.
  • Copyright: (C) 2011 CGH Ventures Inc.
  • Total Length: 54:12
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B004ZGV3YC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 112,944 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 3 July 2001
Format: Audio CD
you probably haven't stumbled over this page - free jazz is one of those records you hear about sooner or later. for the record, it isn't half as 'difficult' as folks like to make out. theres even a kind of structure going on, a number of tags throughout the piece etc. evryone plays well here, ornette steals the show, but a special mention to eric dolphy who if memory serves played on about 3 or 4 utterly essential records - this one included - in the space of about a week i think. it also amuses me that the beatles were unheard of when ornette and chums put this out...
taken as a whole, free jazz strikes me - rather like ascension - like a sun; a bright burning mass of energy that flares up in various, seemingly random places, but that does have an internal logic once you get inside it. repeated listenings will be rewarded with something new each time and an overall joy you only get from the best stuff. go on xxx
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Format: Audio CD
Most folks when they thing of music expect melody, rhythm, discernible sections like choruses and verses. Confronted with "Free Jazz" they are often baffled or take refuge, imagining that "intellectuals" are delighting themselves, thinking themselves oh-so-very-clever over something that isn't there. (see the review below). "Free Jazz" ain't easy, but why should all music be easy? Is poetry, film or prose?

Ornette Coleman had blasted onto the jazz scene, abandoning traditional structures for the primal cry of unmediated freeform jazz, in the 1950s. In so doing he went against the "less-is-more" style of Miles Davis and inspired many already-famous musicians, such as John Coltrane. "Free Jazz" is the logical expression of Coleman's revolution. 8 musicians (a double quartet) freeform, whilst each horn takes in turn to be the dominant instrument. The other horns are free to interject or comment, but they must avoid cliche and play more than what was in their traditional "bag". This was a voyage to the musical unknown.

The playing is in fact fairly easily discernible - Coleman is the dominant soloist, while there are parts like most of the horns laughing, a car-horn peeping, and so on. There are several guiding posts, leitmotifs, to indicate the beginning or end of a solists section, so there are discernible signposts to guide the listener. The CD has a useful introduction t the album, saying who plays when.

Overall the piece lacks the power of the similar "Ascension" - Coltrane was a massivel more authoritive player than Coleman. It feels like flushes of energy at varying frequencies (depending on the horn) washing across your perceptions, a flux of energies and forces, as in an Abstract Expressionist painting (the cover is no accident!). It is not "easy listening" but it is a fascinating document and well-worth repeated hearings.
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Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
This album came out in 1961, exactly 100 years after the start of the American civil war and during the period when "freedom riders" from the Northern states were being beaten and killed by the Ku Klux Klan and martial law was declared in the state of Alabama. Seen in this context, an album in which two rival quartets hurl lines at each other from the two stereo channels, only occasionally uniting to create terrifying discordant fanfares makes a certain kind of sense and I am surprised that it isn't mentioned more often in reviews. I read recently that Ornette regretted using the title "Free Jazz" as it implies that the piece was wholly improvised, when it was actually carefully composed. I don't really buy it, as the record is complete and utter chaos from start to finish, but I understand that, in the context of the times, the word "Free" is too important to be used to refer only to a process by which a piece of music is made. This is music made by free men.
From the moment the needle hits the vinyl (or as soon as the play button is pressed) a force of nature of released. It's spine tingling. It's brash. It's angry. it's strangely beautiful. Like watching the ripples on the surface of a stream, whirls and eddies appear, disappear and reappear. There is order but it is shifting, fluid, elusive. If you're planning to be cast away on an island with only one disc, this might be the perfect choice.
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Format: Audio CD
From the spluttering, primal opening chord, through layer upon layer of rising ecstatic tension to the ferocious closing rhythmic passages, this is a truly great recording. The more closely you listen, the more deeply transcendental the music sounds; the first crossing of the border between jazz and mysticism which others (like John Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders) would later reformulate and expand to dizzying heights. Eric Dolphy's bass clarinet pushes the music into unusual and very un-jazz shapes and Don Cherry's remarkably unconventional trumpet contributes to the rhythm of the piece as much as the bass or drums but it's Ornette's beautiful and unpretentious alto which keeps the listener's attention throughout. I think I'll go and listen to it again right now
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Format: Audio CD
When this came out on vinyl I managed to get a gatefold import copy from Dobell's Record shop in London. I was stunned. Fabulous group improv and easily as good as Coltrane's Ascension but not comparable as they approach improvisational jazz in a different way. The best solution, if you like these performers is to have both. Well worth making sure that your copy of "Free Jazz" has the alternate shorter take which is just as good. Highly recommended if you like Ornette. Give it a miss if you don't.
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