free jazz

Content tagged as free jazz.

TEAK LEAVES AT THE TEMPLES: A film where free jazz and traditional Javanese music meet

TEAK LEAVES AT THE TEMPLES: A film where free jazz and traditional Javanese music meet

On the face of it, there would seem little common ground between European free jazz and the traditional music and Buddhist culture of Java. But for Aucklander Winston Marsh -- co-producer of the film Teak Leaves at the Temples the intersection is in the immediacy and “the sense of the now” in the jazz and the transience...

AMIRI BARAKA/LE ROI JONES: A black critic in the black arts

AMIRI BARAKA/LE ROI JONES: A black critic in the black arts

Nobody talks about Amiri Baraka these days, despite the fact he’s still alive*, still writing and still irritating the hell out of people. That’s called doing God’s work. The last time he was sighted in the public domain was in that Warren Beatty movie, Bulworth. He had a bit-part playing a street bum-cum-guardian angel to...

CHICK COREA INTERVIEWED (2007): The restless quest for connection

CHICK COREA INTERVIEWED (2007): The restless quest for connection

After the long drought came the flood: just 10 days on from Herbie Hancock’s Auckland concert in early 2007 came that by Chick Corea, a keyboard player whose jazz career is equally long and diverse. For jazz lovers used to years between international artists of this calibre, these musicians connect to two great periods in jazz: Corea...

HENRY ROLLINS INTERVIEWED (1990): Volume and vehemence

HENRY ROLLINS INTERVIEWED (1990): Volume and vehemence

It’s the handshake which takes you aback first – a real knuckle-crushing pressure grip which Henry Rollins delivers impressively as his eyebrows level and his gaze hardens. On a first meeting, Rollins is a confrontational kind of guy. And a very heavily tattooed man. The tats snake across his taut forearms around his heavily...

CHICK COREA AND JOHN McLAUGHLIN'S FIVE PEACE BAND LIVE ALBUM: Nu-fusion not so confusin'

CHICK COREA AND JOHN McLAUGHLIN'S FIVE PEACE BAND LIVE ALBUM: Nu-fusion not so confusin'

When Chick Corea and John McLaughlin’s Five Peace band played in Auckland in February of 2009, I noted these players – in the vanguard of jazz fusion in the 70s – had re-invented it for a new audience: gone were the faster-than-thou solos which guitarist McLaughlin once inflicted (notably with his intense Mahavishnu Orchestra)...

Miroslav Vitous Group: Remembering Weather Report (ECM)

Miroslav Vitous Group: Remembering Weather Report (ECM)

With the reunion of Chick Corea and John McLaughlin; bassist Stanley Clarke back with another trio album with pianist Hiromi and drummer Lenny White; Clarke, Corea, White and guitarist Al Di Meola returning as another Return to Forever; and other Seventies fusion artists on the trail again it looks like that whole movement has been...

Living Colour: Chair in the Doorway (Megaforce)

Living Colour: Chair in the Doorway (Megaforce)

With their 89 breakthrough debut Vivid, Living Colour were hailed as the first black rock band, the politics of race/the media around them was talked up by the Black Rock Coalition, and guitarist Vernon Reid repeatedly noted now they were through the door the media (MTV, Rolling Stone etc) would close it. One black rock band was enough, thank...

Gil Scott-Heron: I'm New Here (XL)

Gil Scott-Heron: I'm New Here (XL)

When Gil Scott-Heron -- the American poet, activist and conscience of his nation from the Vietnam years to the Reagan era -- was jailed for cocaine in 2001, then again in ‘06 and ‘07, it seemed it was going to be the beginning of a slow, sad end for one of the most important voices out of black America. If he had done nothing...

SOUNDTRACK FOR A REVOLUTION, a film by  BILL GUTTENTAG and DAN STURMAN, 2009 (Hopscotch DVD)

SOUNDTRACK FOR A REVOLUTION, a film by BILL GUTTENTAG and DAN STURMAN, 2009 (Hopscotch DVD)

Anyone who gets depressed and thinks little social progress has been made need only to look at this ultimately uplifting if sometimes horrifying film to see how far America has come in the past 50 years. Here is an account of the civil rights movement through the words of those who were there, in images that will variously make the heart...

FREEDOM, RHYTHM AND SOUND: Jazz with a raised fist and a copy of Malcolm X speeches in the other hand

FREEDOM, RHYTHM AND SOUND: Jazz with a raised fist and a copy of Malcolm X speeches in the other hand

Few people today -- musicians included -- consider rock or jazz as “political”, even in the broadest sense of the word. Yet back in the late 60s and through the 70s large areas of both certainly were. Less than a year after that remarkable year 1968 (student demonstrations, assassinations, political oppression and...

The Last Poets: When the Revolution Comes (1970)

The Last Poets: When the Revolution Comes (1970)

In the wake of the killing of Martin Luther King and the rise of Black Power politics, the ghettos were in flames. It was inevitable that music -- and in this case street poetry coupled with Afro-roots music -- should reflect, and even drive, the times. The Last Poets were mad as hell and not going to take it: and they were mad as hell about...

CHRIS BOWDEN (2002): His slightly askew career

CHRIS BOWDEN (2002): His slightly askew career

Sometimes reviewers find words lifted from their articles as a banner for promotion. Film companies seem the main offenders in this: l’ve sometimes written unfavourable reviews of a movie only to see a few judiciously selected words like “an emotional rollercoaster ride” lifted out of a sentence which in full read,...

Gil Scott Heron: Winter in America (1974)

Gil Scott Heron: Winter in America (1974)

The great pre-rap, spoken word-cum-jazz-poet Gil Scott Heron is perhaps best known for his angry The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (see clip below) in which he assailed those uncommitted or comfortable blacks who seemed to be standing on the sideline while the streets ran red and Black Panthers had their fists raised. For him it was never...

CHRISTIAN SCOTT INTERVIEWED (2010): The navigator in difficult waters

CHRISTIAN SCOTT INTERVIEWED (2010): The navigator in difficult waters

Trumpeter Christian Scott out of New Orleans is a hot property in jazz these days. He has received considerable critical acclaim for his unique tone (he plays a specially made trumpet) and the intensity of his playing. He learned from grandfather Big Chief Donald Harrison Snr and uncle Donald Harrison Jnr who had played in Art Blakey's...

Christian Scott: Yesterday You Said Tomorrow (Concord)

Christian Scott: Yesterday You Said Tomorrow (Concord)

From the opening bars - a slightly discordant guitar and unsettling drums and knocks -- this album announces itself as something delivering the unexpected by a young jazz trumpeter out of New Orleans. Scott, 27, and his smart young band here probe the edges of the avant-garde and free playing but always remain thoroughly grounded in the long...

Elaine Brown: Seize the Time (1969)

Elaine Brown: Seize the Time (1969)

In that period when rock joined hands with the revolutionaries (the late Sixties into the early Seventies) few could claim to so confidently occupy both sides: Brown was one of them. Born in Philadelphia, she moved to California in the mid-Sixties to wait tables, became a member of the Black Congress community orgainsation, wrote freedom...

Orchestra of Spheres: Nonagonic Now (Sound Explorers)

Orchestra of Spheres: Nonagonic Now (Sound Explorers)

This rhythm-driven four-piece from Wellington is one part early Talking Heads (or the Feelies as a jazz ensemble), a slug of Sun Ra if he'd come from South East Asia and not Saturn, some seriously brain-bending guitar work (with one ear on mad Afro-juju as much as bent country jiggery and scattergun free playing), theremin, tape machines, chanty...

CECIL TAYLOR IN 1990: Florescent flights

CECIL TAYLOR IN 1990: Florescent flights

Genius is the word a lot of people use about Cecil Taylor – but words get pretty debased these days. (“Genius, that‘s like brilliant - but better, yeah?” ) So let’s just say Cecil Taylor is different and interesting. Way back in the Fifties they used to debate whether his abstract speedthrash...

Zirkus: Sirius Music (iiii)

Zirkus: Sirius Music (iiii)

Wellington certainly throws up some interesting, if not always convincing, improvising artists who edge towards the free jazz idiom but rather hit a default position of swing-cum-Dixie with some slightly self-conscious moments. This one -- recorded live in Happy and on the iiii label -- shows that the spirit of the old Braille label and...

ALBERT AYLER: Opening the door to the future

ALBERT AYLER: Opening the door to the future

Albert Ayler -- the inspired, heroic, driven and sometimes difficult saxophonist who committed suicide in 1970 at age 34 -- still stands at a crossroads in jazz. By the late Nineties – when an exceptional, expanded edition of Ayler live surfaced -- even the music's most ardent advocates were having to concede that jazz was almost...

Various Artists: Message from the Tribe (Universal Sound/Southbound)

Various Artists: Message from the Tribe (Universal Sound/Southbound)

On the surface this may look like one for those with selective taste: here is a 12 track collection of inner city jazz from Tribe Records out of Detroit between '72 and '76. The dates are important: Motown had all but gone from the city, many of the jazz musicians had been used as session players but were inspired by Archie Shepp, Ornette...

Lloyd McNeill: Asha (Universal Sounds/Southbound)

Lloyd McNeill: Asha (Universal Sounds/Southbound)

Jazz flautist Lloyd McNeill lived the kind of life only possible in his era: he counted among his friends in the Sixties and Seventies Pablo Picasso (when they both lived in the south of France, McNeill also being a painter), jazz musicians such as Cecil McBee and Ron Carter, singer Nina Simone and many in the Civil Rights movement. He...

FREE JAZZ WITH A BLEEP: The Norwegian electronic-jazz label Rune Grammofone

FREE JAZZ WITH A BLEEP: The Norwegian electronic-jazz label Rune Grammofone

Thelonious Monk said, "Jazz and freedom go hand in hand”. We can guess he meant freedom in a political sense, because jazz is about individual expression and in that regard was a vehicle for the aspirations of his people. It's about freedom and post-Monk found its voice in free jazz. Free jazz is much maligned, largely...

DAVID S. WARE: The price of free

DAVID S. WARE: The price of free

When the histories of jazz in the 20th century are published one name from the last two decades could loom unnaturally large: Wynton Marsalis. In some books he'll be hailed as the man who saved jazz from factionalism, commercial isolation and the like. In others he'll be the revisionist who used unquestionable talent, persuasive...

James Blood Ulmer: Are You Glad To Be In America (1981)

James Blood Ulmer: Are You Glad To Be In America (1981)

For many of the open-eared among jazz listeners -- those who had grown up on rock guitarists and heard in Hendrix the vanguard of a fusion, followed Miles Davis through Bitches Brew and Jack Johnson, had albums by John McLaughlin and understood jazz-funk -- it seemed as if guitarist-singer James Blood Ulmer was going to deliver them from...

The Master Musicians of Jajouka: Brian Jones presents The Pipes of Pan at Jajouka (1971)

The Master Musicians of Jajouka: Brian Jones presents The Pipes of Pan at Jajouka (1971)

Some albums have auspicious beginings and a messy legacy. So it is with this album recorded in Morocco in 1968 by Brian Jones, then of the Rolling Stones. By the time the album was released Jones had been dead a year -- he drowned a year after his trip to Morocco and was no longer a Stone -- and a shadow was cast over its mesmerising music....

Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie XX: We're New Here (XL)

Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie XX: We're New Here (XL)

Although much hailed -- perhaps because no one expected to hear from him again -- last year's I'm New Here by American poet Gil Scott-Heron did seem a little under-developed: pieces faded out, other bits were just snippets of conversations and so on. That didn't deny its visceral power -- made more so given his recently troubled life -- but...

SONNY ROLLINS INTERVIEWED (2011): The old lion still prowling

SONNY ROLLINS INTERVIEWED (2011): The old lion still prowling

Gary Giddins, America's most authoritative jazz critic, said of tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins that he was “one of the last immortals, the most powerful presence in jazz today. He is its most cunning, surprising, and unpredictable improviser – the one musician whose infrequent concert appearances foster intense anticipation and...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Ornette Coleman; Original Album Series (Rhino)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Ornette Coleman; Original Album Series (Rhino)

The great saxophonist/composer Ornette Coleman never seems to have been in any doubt about how he might influence the course of music: the title of his first album was The Shape of Jazz to Come (an Essential Elsewhere album here) and that was followed by Change of the Century. Then there was the bald assertion of This is Our Music, his...

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