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Audio, Cassette, September 1, 1961
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This album demands your attention. If you listen to this as background music while you clean your room, it will drive you nuts. If you really tune in though, it's fascinating. Read morePublished on September 29, 2013 by Monsieur Tarzan
I have 8 of these Japan budget cd's by Coleman and Coltrane and every one has EXCELLENT sound. See my review of the mono My Favorite Things by Coltrane. Read morePublished on August 17, 2013 by groover
This is garbage - total garbage. Do not waste your money on this CD. That is not to say that Ornette hasn't done some great stuff - just not this. Read morePublished on September 12, 2011 by Robert D. Goldberg
This mini-lp replica sleeve (mlps) version of Ornette Coleman's masterpiece of improvisation and innovation is a real treat for fans. Read morePublished on June 9, 2010 by Frederick Baptist
I've owned this cd for five years and have listened to it numerous times. But on the way to work in the car this morning, I finally 'got' it. Read morePublished on May 7, 2010 by General Martok
Complex and interesting.If you dont already Love free jazz(genre),dont start here.May i suggest "Ornette!";also "Ornette on Tenor"? and check out Cecil Taylor... Read morePublished on April 9, 2010 by richard 11
Well...not hardly. And it is usually understated. Before this album, critics were applying the term 'free jazz' to Coleman's music. Read morePublished on February 20, 2010 by A. Ives