free jazz

free jazz
spontaneously experimental, free-form jazz, popularized as an avant-garde phenomenon in the 1960s by various soloists and characterized by random expression and disregard for traditional structures, tonalities, and rhythms. Also called new thing.

* * *

music
      an approach to jazz improvisation that emerged during the late 1950s, reached its height in the '60s, and remained a major development in jazz thereafter.

      The main characteristic of free jazz is that there are no rules. Musicians do not adhere to a fixed harmonic structure (predetermined chord progressions) as they improvise; instead, they modulate (i.e., change keys) at will. Free jazz improvisers typically phrase in chromatic intervals and harmonies, and some achieve atonality while playing in microtones, overtones, multiphonics (simultaneous notes played on one horn), and tone clusters. Free jazz performers often improvise without observing fixed metres or tempos. Solo and accompaniment roles tend to be fluid, as does the balance of composition and improvisation in a performance. The ultimate development of free jazz is free improvisation, which combines all these qualities—using no fixed instrumental roles or harmonic, rhythmic, or melodic structures and abandoning composition altogether.

      As early as the 1940s, jazz musicians, most notably pianist Lennie Tristano (Tristano, Lennie) and composer Bob Graettinger, created a handful of works using free jazz elements. Effectively, free jazz began with the small groups led in 1958–59 by alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman (Coleman, Ornette), from whose album Free Jazz (1960) the idiom received its name. Shortly afterward, saxophonists John Coltrane (Coltrane, John) and Eric Dolphy (Dolphy, Eric) and pianist Cecil Taylor (Taylor, Cecil) began creating individual versions of free jazz. “Energy music,” later called “noise,” became an identifying label for high-energy, collective improvisations in which dense sound textures were created from furiously generated note sequences. In the mid-1960s Coltrane and fellow saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders adopted styles using soaring runs and distorted wails and shrieks, and Albert Ayler (Ayler, Albert) played saxophone solos using indeterminate pitches, multiphonic honks, and overtone screams. Such drummers as Sunny Murray and Andrew Cyrille accompanied these improvisations with pure accent and without direct reference to tempo or metre. Sun Ra's Arkestra, with instrumentalists, singers, and dancers, enriched free jazz with a colourful sense of spectacle, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago and other musicians affiliated with that city's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians explored new sound colours and melodic expressions that returned an emphasis on lyricism to free jazz.

      There were other innovations as well: saxophonists Anthony Braxton (Braxton, Anthony), Steve Lacy, and Evan Parker performed unaccompanied improvisations at their solo concerts, and unprecedented groups began to appear that had no rhythm section instruments whatsoever. Free improvisation also flourished in Europe and Great Britain, where native musical traditions often influenced the players as much as did traditional jazz. The Ganelin Trio from the Soviet Union improvised on Russian folk songs, and exiles from South Africa in the Brotherhood of Breath fused free jazz with kivela (kwela) music. The free-jazz idiom proved to be a stimulus to composers for large and small ensembles, resulting in a remarkable variety of composed music by Coleman, Barry Guy, Leo Smith, Henry Threadgill (Threadgill, Henry), Alex Schlippenbach, David Murray, Pierre Dørge, John Zorn, and Roscoe Mitchell, among others.

Additional Reading
John Litweiler, The Freedom Principle: Jazz After 1958 (1984, reprinted 1990), is a critical history of free jazz. Ekkehard Jost, Free Jazz (1974, reissued 1994), provides a scholarly analysis of several major figures. Valerie Wilmer, As Serious as Your Life (1977, reissued 1992), examines free jazz from social as well as biographical perspectives.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Free-jazz — Jazz Terminologie du jazz Principaux courants ragtime …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Free Jazz — Jazz Terminologie du jazz Principaux courants ragtime …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Free jazz — Orígenes musicales hard bop, blues Orígenes culturales años sesenta y comienzo de los setenta, en Estados Unidos y Europa Instrumentos comunes …   Wikipedia Español

  • Free-Jazz — ist einerseits ein historischer Begriff für (harmonisch) freies Improvisationsspiel im Jazz seit den 1960er Jahren. Andererseits ist es ein bis heute ausstrahlendes Paradigma, das die Möglichkeit zur freien Entfaltung immer neuer Formen im Jazz… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Free Jazz — 〈[fri: dʒæ̣s] m.; ; unz.〉 freiimprovisierter Jazz [engl.] * * * Free Jazz [ fri: ʤæz ], der; [engl., aus: free = frei u. ↑ Jazz] (Musik): auf freier Improvisation beruhendes Spielen von Jazzmusik. * * * Free Jazz   [amerikanisch, frɪ: dʒæ …   Universal-Lexikon

  • free-jazz — [ fridʒaz ] n. m. inv. • 1965; angl. free « libre » et fr. jazz ♦ Anglic. Style de jazz fondé sur l improvisation collective hors toute contrainte harmonique, et avec une grande liberté mélodique et rythmique. free jazz n. m. inv. Courant de la… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • free jazz — ● free jazz nom masculin (américain free jazz, jazz libre) École de jazz apparue aux États Unis au début des années 1960 à la suite des recherches d Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Cecil Taylor, Eric Dolphy, Charlie Mingus et John Coltrane …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • free jazz — loc.s.m.inv. ES ingl. {{wmetafile0}} TS mus. stile jazzistico elaborato in America alla fine degli anni Cinquanta, caratterizzato dalla ricerca di suoni e ritmi liberi dagli schemi armonici tradizionali, dall introduzione di elementi musicali… …   Dizionario italiano

  • Free Jazz — [ fri: dʒæz] der; <aus engl. amerik. free jazz, eigtl. »freier Jazz«> auf freier Improvisation beruhendes Spielen von Jazzmusik …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • free-jazz — |fridjaz| s. m. Estilo de jazz aparecido nos Estados Unidos no começo dos anos 60 que preconiza a improvisação total, inteiramente liberta das imposições da melodia, da trama harmônica e do tempo.   ‣ Etimologia: palavra americana, jazz livre …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • Free Jazz — [ fri: dʒ̮ɛs ], der; (Spielweise des Modern Jazz) …   Die deutsche Rechtschreibung

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”