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Old 12-27-2010, 09:36 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I remember being super confused when I first heard that because I mixed up the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes.
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Old 12-27-2010, 10:08 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by s_k View Post
I'm never sure when Jazz is 'free'. It's a thin line between free and 'regular' jazz.
To me, it all has to do with the style of improvisation. After all, the most fundamental aspect of jazz is its improvisation. Some styles of jazz (modal, bebop) had very secure and defined styles of improv, use these scales, revolve your tonality around the rhythm section, etc.

Free jazz proposes a much more limitless kind of improvisation. The general 'avant-garde' jazz actually often has very ridgid and well-defined scales or patterns that the soloists follow, but free jazz is a quantum leap forward in that respect. The actual ability for musicians to play off each other, and to come off as rational and not just random, is key.

It's not the freest thing that Al did, but it's among the most impacting; it's the first track in 3 years that I 'loved' on within my first listen. Absolutely captivating playing.
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Old 12-28-2010, 06:31 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I like jazz that has a certain theme, but I don't mind if it takes off now and then.

Something like this

or this

But I don't think that would be considered particularly 'free'
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Old 12-28-2010, 11:45 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by s_k View Post
I'm never sure when Jazz is 'free'. It's a thin line between free and 'regular' jazz.
The differences are fairly clear but brilliant players like Trane, Mingus & Miles frequently blurred the categorical distinctions between regular (traditional) jazz and free jazz. Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra & Eric Dolphy are more firmly entrenched in the pure free jazz tradition. All of the above mentioned players were all masters of the traditional jazz form, regardless of their inclinations toward the free jazz form.

The differences between traditional jazz and free jazz are as follows:
  • Traditional jazz is built on a framework of established song forms, such as the 12 bar blues, or the 32 bar form of a popular ballad. In free jazz, the dependence on a fixed and pre-established form is eliminated, and the role of improvisation is correspondingly increased.
  • Tradtional jazz uses clear defined meters and strongly-pulsed rhythms, usually in 4/4 or (less often) 3/4. Free jazz retains rhythms but often swings without regular meter. The rhythm of free jazz frequently accelerates or slows down depending on the improvised musical direction.
  • Traditional jazz follows conventional harmonic structures. Free jazz, by definition dispenses with harmonic structures, but free jazz frequently employs combinations of the diatonic, altered dominant and blues phrasing of traditional jazz. In free jazz you may hear dissonant off key playing but it's not because the players are tone jazz has a different set of tonal & harmonic ground rules.
  • The most striking element of free jazz harmonics is the use of Eastern atonal harmonics and polyrhythmic structures that characterize African tribal music, Arabic music and classical raga music from India.
In reality free jazz is not a modern musical form, rather it's an exploration of ancient and more primitive musical forms that predate the more refined and conventionally structured traditional ballad, dance song or 12 bar blues. Many of the ancient forms of free jazz come from tribal cultures that existed long before the discovery of America.

Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis is the ultimate traditional jazz theorist and has made the controversial argument that jazz ended when jazz musicians abandoned the conventional American blues and ballad form & began the free jazz experiment. It's a conservative cultural perspective, but there is some logic behind it because traditional jazz was built on traditional American music forms while free jazz is built on more exotic music forms from Africa, the Middle East and the Far East. For Marsalis, traditional jazz died at the end of the bop era; and free jazz, fusion, & post bop traditions are musical mutations of jazz but not valid forms of traditional American jazz.
There are two types of music: the first type is the blues and the second type is all the other stuff.
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Old 12-29-2010, 08:08 AM   #15 (permalink)
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That's a great explanation of free jazz vs traditional jazz
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Old 12-29-2010, 09:51 PM   #16 (permalink)
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You can always count on Gavin!
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Old 12-29-2010, 10:58 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by tore View Post

One album which is generally regarded as important to that whole free jazz thang is Coltrane's album Ascension which was released in 1966. Here's a taste!

Man, that album is off the hat rack. I'm happy you gave a nod to it, Tore. Nobody has brought up Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come, which surprises me, but by today's standards can we really call it free jazz anymore?
Originally Posted by The Batlord
And if you're getting bored then feel free to go give Eddie Vedder a handjob.
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Old 12-29-2010, 11:07 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I loved that record, and I really loved Dancing In Your Head as well.
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Old 12-30-2010, 01:08 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Last edited by Ska Lagos Jew Sun Ra; 12-30-2010 at 01:12 PM. Reason: ****ing youtube embedding doesn't want to work with this video...
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Old 12-31-2010, 04:49 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I feel as if, after reading Gavin's and clutknuckle's posts, that this is, after all, appropriate. Let me know.

The Bad Plus!

and they have a slew of covers they do as well

from Sabbath to Nirvana
from David Bowie to the Pixies
from Rush to Radiohead

These guys have a lot to offer

More to come from other artists later.

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