Sunday, February 22, 2009


Ornette Coleman's 1960 masterpiece "Free Jazz" is a startlingly innovative jazz album. It features two jazz quartets playing at the same time, improvising, and playing off of each other. The album consists of one song, clocking in at around forty minutes. On first listen, it is highly chaotic, but on repeated listenings it is frighteningly beautiful. Out of the chaos comes a beautiful, natural order as you listen to the instruments playing off of each other, and the solos are incredible. There is an organic sense of melody that holds everything together. You hear something different every time you listen to it. In a way, "Free Jazz" reminds me of the action painting and abstract expressionism of the work of Jackson Pollack. In fact, one of his paintings are featured on the cover. Highly recommended, for the adventurous music listener only.

I'm a huge fan of Ornette Coleman's work. All of his albums are beautiful and challenging. His music is harmolodic, a phrase he coined himself. It goes against traditional scales and key signatures. You play what you feel and hear, and out of the chaos comes order. A modern day example of this would be the adventurous, difficult to replicate guitar playing of Greg Ginn from Black Flag.

Here is a ten minute excerpt from "Free Jazz". Enjoy.


David Abstract said...

Enjoyed it very much.
I find listening to free jazz a odd experience because I haven't much of an ear for instrumental music pieces - I need words to hook tunes onto.
I can get along all right with most classical or jazz "da-da-da-ing" it but with improvised music that's not very easy; this means now I've finished listening I have a "feeling" of jazz, rather than a "memory" of jazz - very strange.

David Abstract said...

btw Steve where does the picture in your title bar come from? I've often wondered...

Steve Smith said...

It's an image from the movie "Spiderbaby".