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Avant Garde Jazz

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In reply to an earlier post on Oct 29, 2008 9:43:34 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 29, 2008 9:44:39 PM PDT
Spartacus says:
I think that what I was getting at goes even farther than the point you are making. Today jazz musicians are not bound by the constraints of melody and chordal structure, yet still create music of great presence and intensity that still has thematic impact relying on the texture and color of the sound to bring through the emotions they express. They have gone beyond both Monet and Mondrian, producing many memorable performances of sheer and utter beauty.


In reply to an earlier post on Oct 31, 2008 6:05:00 PM PDT
Spartacus says:
Well Jay,

If you're still around, I finally got the entire list in. Had to split it into two sections. I hope this hasn't been a waste of effort. There has been very little activity since I started this forum.


In reply to an earlier post on Nov 1, 2008 9:59:09 AM PDT
It's going to take a bit to go thru that list. Where did you go for that ,just your own collection ?

You are mining a whole new vein in these parts with the Avant Garde Jazz. There are a dedicated few of us who are passionate about this music. Just remember these things take time to develop. Btw the post "What About Jazz Since '67?" has gone w/o a post for over a month on a couple of occasions since I started it back in December of '07. As far as activity the tides change with the moon around here like everywhere else.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 1, 2008 4:52:13 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 1, 2011 9:35:49 AM PDT
Spartacus says:
My collection? I wish!!! Actually my collection only includes about 1500 groups/individuals as leaders (which is how I file them) and of that less than 600 are what I would call avant garde (the rest I class as "mainstream"). I have perhaps 2500 albums that might qualify as avant garde. I started to build this list a number of years back so that I could keep an eye out for musicians I hadn't heard who were considered edge players. Some obviously are famous-others are pretty obscure.

I really enjoy it a lot when someone gives me info on avant garde stuff that I hadn't heard about. That's one of the reasons I started this thread, in the hopes I might attract some really knowledgeable people here. I tried to do the same thing on Yahoo a couple of years back and the effort fell flat on its face. If you know others interested in this kind of music, I wish you'd try to steer them here. If this thread doesn't catch on soon, I'm afraid it will die the way the other one did. I think it takes somthing of an advertising effort to get this kind of thing going. I don't want to wind up looking like that organ geek because I push this thing too hard. I know for sure I can't do it alone. There are a lot of things I could add here, but I don't want to have three out of every 4 posts wind up being mine: it won't be any good unless this is really a democratically shared thing.


PS If you know some way to contact Jay Ambler, please let him know I finished the list.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 1, 2008 5:03:31 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 1, 2008 5:04:07 PM PDT
Spartacus says:
Hey Pharoah,

I picked up a copy of the Alphaville Suite. It's like you said, very well integrated. And since it's fairly recent, it probably indicates more movement in that direction in the future. I am going to catch Parker at The Stone this month, so I guess I'll get a taste there of what he's currently up to. (Can't wait!) Thanks again for the tip.


In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2008 6:46:52 AM PST
Jay Ambler says:
hey, Dan - I am always around. I read thru the Amazon Avant Garde list - almost half way - over 9,000 entries. Of course that is by album, so a lot of artists are listed more than once. What is even more interesting is the list mania sidebars and the reviews by fans. I always get distracted by them. I like to find a fan who is very knowledgeable and read all of his/her reviews. Interesting insights for sure. Have you ever done reviews or list manias? Almost like another community in itself.

The Bad Plus doesn't seem to be easily categorized as Avant Garde, since their trio (big sound for a trio) delves into rock, classical and swing very often. They do have "new" songs though, which I am always looking for.

Now Bill Frisell is something else. He is definately Avant Garde - at times. I saw him on TV opening a Jazz festival a few months ago. His trio was reallly really bad! It went beyond noodling into sparse, deadened confusion. Like amateurs banging away at unfamilar instruments. But it was deliberate. Then Frisell sometimes goes way deep into country and bluegrass, occasionally turning up a brilliant player now and then like Victor Kraus upright bass player and Jerry Douglas's energetic dobro. I can really dig that stuff, but some other country like attempts are extremely retro - like back to the dusty roads of hillbilly hovels of the 1930's. So extreme are his tastes sometimes that I cannot count myself a fan.

I recently discovered the EMI group of artists thru listening to Jan Garbarek and Keith Jarrett. But, again, some of the spaced out weirdo sounds are not going to keep me going. I do prefer rhythm that is bright and up front - even embellished by world percussion instruments - and a touch of electronics here and there. But mainly a muscian that can find a groove and keep it "travelin'" while producing some new sounds and phrasing along the way.

So, the search goes on. Perhaps you could be more specific about the artists you like the most - what emotionally pulls you in, etc.

Carry on,

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2008 9:39:22 AM PST
Nitya says:
Jay Ambler says: I recently discovered the EMI group of artists
Not to pick a nit but I think you mean ECM. There are also two other labels in the ECM family: Japo and Watt. I believe the three labels have approximately 1100 (including classical) releases between them. I would not call the majority of their albums Avant Garde Jazz.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2008 9:53:04 AM PST
Barbican says:
I was reviewing your list (and what a list!). Suprised to not see Faruq Bey (griot galaxy) mentioned. I find him a lot less intimidating than most. but i don't think that matters to you. Here's a youtube of him playing with the Northwoods.

kind of reminds me of Pharoah Sanders.


In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2008 10:10:52 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 2, 2008 10:24:29 AM PST
Spartacus says:

One of the reasons I wanted to get this forum off the ground (perhaps my primary reason) was that it would give me an opportunity to learn from others who are attracted to this kind of music. Somebody says, "Hey, why isn't so-and-so on your list?" And now I can check out someone I'm not familiar with and that's the best part of all. If nobody comes up with new names, I will be very, very sad.

The names I have included may sometimes be debatable. What is avant garde, after all? The avant garde of today may be the moldy oldies of tomorrow. So I try to be as generous as possible. I had all I could do not to include Coleman Hawkins on the list. If you listen to his early recordings of Picasso and Dali, and his work with Max Roach on We Insist, it is hard to remember how far back he started and how he was generally considered to be mainstream without even a shrug of the shoulder by most people. But his bebop involvement wasn't mainstream at the point that he got into it, and the Freedom Now Suite can't possibly classify as mainstream. So there you are. What is avant garde?

I'll gladly discuss any particular musicians with anybody to the extent that I may have a little knowledge to share. I never considered writing reviews because I am not a musician or a music scholar and really have little to put in a review beyond saying why I think it is that I like some particular recording. I also haven't put together a list of my favorite musicians. I can tell you who would top the list-names like Archie Shepp, Lester Bowie, Eric Dolphy.... I will try to put together a list and post it here at a later date and then, maybe, we can talk about that. Some people are surprised when I mention groups like the Bad Plus and the Lounge Lizards that they may not really consider to be jazz, but I think that to be so excluse as not to include them would be rather myopic. My guess is that if I knew more about the subject, the size of the list I have put together could easily double or triple. It would be a lot of fun to work with other with that in mind as a possible goal.

I myself went through the avant garde category on eMusic, but that is the only other list I have drawn on so far. If someone else has a list that they think they could merge into mine, I would be quite interested to hear from them. So again, thanks for all the suggestions, and don't be a stranger.


In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2008 10:42:54 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 2, 2008 10:44:16 AM PST
Spartacus says:

Thanks for mentioning Faruq Bey. He's the first add to the list since I finished posting it. I was already familiar with Dennis Gonzallez but I had never actually heard Northwoods. So we are now collaborators on this venture.


In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2008 11:26:30 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 2, 2008 11:37:37 AM PST
Barbican says:
Not that I like him (too "out" there for me), but I guess David Torn belongs on your list.


edit: i guess it's really Tim Berne: alto sax that dominates and he's already on your list.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2008 1:00:55 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 2, 2008 2:38:35 PM PST
Spartacus says:

I thought you had me there for a minute, but it turns out David Torn is on the list (after Tokyo 77) only not in correct alphabetic order. I'll fix it when I have a chance.


In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2008 2:36:55 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 6, 2008 8:10:07 AM PST
Spartacus says:

You asked for a list of my favorite artists and what pulls me toward them emotionally. That's a two-parter and I will give you just one part for starters-the list. Keep in mind that you did not specify avant garde in your question, so I decided not to limit the list that way. There are many, many musicians that I like, but the short list is exactly that, short. Later on when I have more time I will discuss some of them at least individually and tell you why they appeal to me personally. But for now, here's the list:

George Adams
Billy Bang
Art Blakey
Lester Bowie
Oscar Brown Jr.
John Coltrane
Miles Davis
Eric Dolphy
Gil Evans
Yusef Lateef
Charles Mingus
Oliver Nelson
George Russell
Archie Shepp
Sahib Shihab

Hope that helps.


In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2008 12:35:18 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 4, 2008 12:36:25 PM PST

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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2008 1:12:38 PM PST
glad you're liking the Alphaville Suite, Daniel. When WP augments his Quartet with other players, I think that's when they're at their best.. or at least at my favorite. The first tune (part 1) with Leena Conquest is slinky as hell. I love Hamid's touch there.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2008 5:33:46 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 4, 2008 5:43:50 PM PST
Spartacus says:

What's your read on the lineup at The Stone this month-Campbell, Bang, Parker, Carrott & Matsuura. The interaction there is going to be a lot different from other groups Parker Plays with but these players are all so flexible it's hard for me to guess in advance where they are likely to go. In any case I'm really looking forward to it.


PS Where are you from. Anywhere near enough to make that Chicago thing?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2008 5:50:29 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 4, 2008 5:54:18 PM PST
Barbican says:
Hope I don't disappoint, but I am not that big a fan of avant garde jazz. I took this more as a "musical exercise". But I think you will never be able to create any kind of definitive list. For example, I googled Mike Khoury who played violin with griot galaxy (Faruq's group). He's since paired up with Piotr Michalowski (who's on your list). But with them is Lenni Bukowski (not on the list) playing some of the horns. I think the 6 degrees of separation thing will kill you.

edit: here's a link to one of their collaborations

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2008 11:38:24 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 15, 2008 6:06:54 PM PST
Spartacus says:
The idea is merely to include as many musicians as possible who have played a considerable amount of avant garde jazz. It may not be the only thing they have ever played since some played in a more traditional manner early in their careers. I also don't usually include musicians who play mainstream predominantly but have appeard once or twice on albums that might be considered avant garde. I'm not being a purist here, especially since it is impossible to define a subgenre with precision. The importance of the list is its utility for people who like this kind of music and want to explore it further.


In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2008 11:04:16 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 16, 2008 1:55:10 AM PST
Spartacus says:
I just discovered something rather surprising. Both Branford and Wynton Marsalis were once students of Kidd Jordan. How did they get there (here?) from here (there?)-or wherever they are now (wherever that is)?


PS I think Wynton may be doin' somethin' in th' closet. You know, he once told someone Lester Bowie was his favorite trumpet player!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2008 10:11:54 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 6, 2008 10:14:52 PM PST
Spartacus says:
Tomorrow night (11-8-08) Oliver Lake, Andrew Cyrille and Reggie Workman are at Trumpets in Montclair, NJ. That's only 5 minutes from where I live, so I am taking my wife up there.

Charlie Haden and The Liberation Music Orchestra are at the Blue Note this week too, but I'll have to miss that one. There's a thing Haden does called Silence that I'd love to hear live. Haden has been called the Noam Chomsky of jazz because of pieces like Song For Che and The Ballad Of The Fallen. Silence sounds to me like a requiem: it is a piece of great beauty. If Haden does have an abiding political agenda, his compositions certainly never suffer from its influence. It is truly rare that music and politics can blend successfully, but Haden's work is absolute proof that it definitely can be done.


In reply to an earlier post on Nov 7, 2008 7:04:14 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 7, 2008 7:05:37 AM PST

You go man!! I have 2 of their Trio 3 albums,ENCOUNTER and OPEN IDEAS. Bet it will be great. Is the wife a Jazz fan? Do you do post concert reviews for us lesser fortunates?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2008 7:23:10 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 15, 2008 6:11:04 PM PST
Spartacus says:
Last night Cyrille did a thing called Tribute to Bu (or something like that). Talk about drums! Perfect dedication to Blakey. He made those things sing! They recorded the session so maybe we can get it later.


PS I have the 1975 album that Lake made with Ted Daniel (In the Beginning). It was only his second one after the one he made with's sort of a rarity. The other musicians on the date were Arthur Blythe and Charles Tyler. Each of the four contributed one piece to the set.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2008 12:37:47 PM PST
Nitya says:
Dan: Please tell me if you think the music in this video is avant garde:

The trumpet player is Nils Petter Molvaer
The guitarist is Eivind Aarset
The drummer is Audun Kleive

Nils and Eivind are friends of mine, I have known them for about five years. I hang with them at least once a year when I go to Norway. Nils is the most popular jazz trumpet player in northern europe and Eivind is the most popular (and sought after for studio sessions) guitar player. Audun has played with everybody in europe (Terje Rypdal, Arve Henriksen, Marilyn Mazur, Ralph Towner, Jon Balke, Mathias Eick, etc.).

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2008 9:18:00 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 15, 2008 6:12:35 PM PST
Spartacus says:
I've got eleven of Molvaer's albums and five of Aarset's. I haven't checked the liner notes to see which ones include Kleive, but I know He's on the 1988 Arild Andersen, Ralph Towner & Nana Vascocelos album. If You Look Far Enough.

I'm not the "authority" on avant garde jazz, but that's where I file all these guys. I am a long time fan of what was called "Third Stream' when it first hit the US, so a lot of the tamer Eurojazz sounds that way to me, and as far as I'm concerned that makes it almost all avant garde in that it definitely goes beyond bebop and the Miles Davis cool jazz school of the fifties.

This stuff is definitely not tame and sure is hell is way beyond the current US mainstream. In recent years there has been a blurring between what is considered avant garde rock and avant garde jazz. Actually it's not all that recent if you consider vintage groups like Last Exit. I don't usually consider the popular majority of what is termed fusion to be avant garde (more like simple crass commercialism). Individual taste always has wide variations, of course.

In any case both you and any of your nominees are quite welcome here (as is as well any contrary opinions by others we may stimulate).

Have fun


In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2008 10:11:05 PM PST
Nitya says:
Daniel M. Bresnahan says: I've got eleven of Molvaer's albums and five of Aarset's.
Eivind is a really cool guy. His wife Anne Marie is a wonderful singer. They had a group in the mid nineties called Ab und Zu with Audun on drums. He also plays with Marilyn Mazur's Future Song and Dhafer Yousef's band.

Nils is also cool too and allows taping of his live shows (so does Eivind). A friend of mine in Gemany has a mannequin head he sets up behind the sound board with binaural headphones and a DAT tape recorder. The recordings are sometimes better (depends on crowd noise) than soundboard recordings because they catch the ambience of the room. I have 68 NPM concerts and 26 Aarset concerts dating back to 1996.

I believe Khmer by NPM was a paradigm shifting album in jazz. Didn't sell too well in US but spawned a remix cd in europe as did NPM's second album Solid Ether. I saw the last performance of the Khmer band in a club in Norway in 2007. I was having a beer with Nils, Eivind, Jon Hassell and the other guys in the band after the set and complimented him on the performance. He told me I had just attended their last show together.

Do you have any of the Masquelero albums?. It was Arild Anderson, Jon Christianson, NPM, Jon Balke, Tore Brunberg. They played Miles type cool jazz. Then NPM formed Khmer and played more like electric Miles. He told me he was going to quit playing trumpet after Masquelero but discovered Jon Hassell and rigged up a harmonizer and began playing with Eivind. That group (then called Eivind Aarset Band) became Nils Petter Molvaer Group because Eivind had a side project he named Electronique Noir (now called Eivind Aarset Trio).
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Initial post:  Oct 5, 2008
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