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Free Jazz

50 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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Audio, Cassette, September 1, 1961
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Editorial Reviews

NOW 2736092DISC 11. FREE JAZZ2. FIRST TAKE


1. Free Jazz - Ornette Coleman Double Quartet
2. First Take - Ornette Coleman Double Quartet

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Atlantic
  • ASIN: B000002I55
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #206,502 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

147 of 149 people found the following review helpful By happydogpotatohead on January 7, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Let's get rid of some myths about this great CD.
First of all, "Free Jazz" is NOT CHAOS. Listening to this all the way proves it; "First Take" is the same piece, and if you compare "Free Jazz" and "First Take," you will see similarities and structure. So let's get rid of the idea that this was "totally improvised" first. There is an underlying structure to this piece, and you can figure it out if you try.
Secondly: it is NOT ATONAL. What is happening here is that several different melodies are going on all at the same time, but each melody that each musician plays is meant to interact with the melodies the other musicians are playing. There are no chords, and there is no ESTABLISHED, FORMAL tonal center. But just because there is no FORMAL tonal center, doesn't mean there isn't one.
Third: It is NOT AMELODIC. There are lots of melodies here. If you listen to it, you can find lots of melody. They may be odd melodies, but they are there. In particular, everything that Eric Dolphy plays and everything that Don Cherry and Ornette Coleman play makes perfect sense melodically. You may not agree with their tone choices or with the concept of "harmolodics" that underlies this piece, but listening to it, you will find melody.
Fourth: IT IS NOT DIFFICULT TO LISTEN TO. The other reviews compare this music to higher mathematics and imply that listening to this is impossible unless you're an intellectual. The best way to approach this music is with NO PRECONCEPTIONS, including the preconception that you have to be an "intellectual" to appreciate this music.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 13, 1999
Format: Audio CD
"Free Jazz" is not an easy piece of music to listen to. I am a very big fan of jazz in the avante garde and love "the new thing" on Impulse! in the late 1960's. I am a fan of Coltrane, Kirk, Dolphy and Mingus and embrace their experiments. For me, Coleman is a challenge.
Coltrane's work on "Meditations" follows a developmental process, a prayer, a mini symphony with movements that indicate mood. I am drawn to this piece because my soul can follow along with it, I am catapulted into different emmotions and my being must adjust as I go. For "Free Jazz" everything is completely different.
For me, "Free Jazz" is something radically different from the fairly melodic chaos of Mingus, a melodic composer always! "Free Jazz" lives in the realm of Cecil Taylor and the "Interstellar Space" of 1967 Coltrane, not the emmotional movements of a philosphical Coltrane or a gospel tinged Mingus. This is almost like complex number theory, something purely numerical and beyond the reach of immediate understanding. This music requires discipline and training in its listeners. I know no number theory and so, my subjective connection to jazz in the avante garde places me on the outside (at first) to this music.
Coleman was acting analytically. His approach to music was not for the possible signification ofethereal possibilities, like Coltrane, but was an innovative approach by which he wanted to test whether or not music could remain cohesive when the sounds were stretched further. The concept that flat notes could hold a composition together had not been tried before. Not only is it not immediately smooth and aesthtic listening, but is actually dissonant and can even hurt ones ears.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By nadav haber on June 10, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This is a magnificent CD. It contains music made by a group of some of the best minds in Jazz: Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Freddy Hubbard, Charlie Haden, Ed Blackwell, Scott La Faro, Billy Higgins and Don Cherry. The music is actually composed - though not in the traditional sense of the word. The order of the soloists is clear. The bridge is repeated between every solo, the rhythm is coherent. There is an emotional continuity throughout the whole CD. What makes the music here so special is the interplay between the musicians, the way each of them supports and adds behinds each solo. When you hear Dolphy's Bass Clarinet laughing in the background it has to make you smile. The joy that the musicians must have felt while recording the music is heard beautifully. The drums and bass (each doubled) participate in the celebration in a way that should be studied by every modern composer - they are equal members while being fully aware of each instrument's strength and limitations. A must for every fan of non-commercial music, and for EVERY musician from any genre.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Autonomeus TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 7, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I write with the new Ornette listener in mind -- don't be misled by the title, this is not the place to start with Ornette (let alone the Rosetta Stone!). "Free Jazz" is a very interesting experiment with a double quartet, but it does not measure up to Ornette's quartet recordings for Atlantic. "The Shape of Jazz to Come," "Change of the Century," "This Is Our Music" (available on import), "On Tenor," and "Ornette!" are all superb, and any of them (but of course "Shape" has pride of place because it was first) would be much better places to start listening to Ornette Coleman.

The splendid 6 disc box "Beauty Is a Rare Thing" includes everything Ornette recorded for Atlantic from 1959-1961, including both versions of "Free Jazz," but presumably if you're just checking out his music you're not going to go straight for the box. My recommendation would be, check out for starters "Shape," with Billy Higgins on drums, and "This Is Our Music," the same quartet except with the late, great Ed Blackwell on drums.

Yes, the music Ornette helped create is often called Free Jazz, but this particular recording is not The Essential Free Jazz Recording. (For what it's worth, I don't think Coltrane's large ensemble "Ascension" is one of his best outings either.)
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