Free Jazz

Musical Archetypes and Collective Consciousness: Cognitive Distribution and Free Improvisation

Critical Studies in Improvisation

Burrows' goal is to demystify the act of improvising by drawing on theories of cognition and on his experience as a musician. He argues that purely interior mental processes supposedly governing improvisation are in fact dependent on external "objects" or environmental factors, such as the physical act of sound creation or the reactions of others. Each performance, Burrows suggests, may thus be affected by the interplay of individual psychological motivations, technical features of instruments, or the audience.

Review-Derek Bailey and the Story of Free Improvisation


One gets the sense that Ben Watson is itching for a fight, given his writerly penchant for polemic and confrontation. Readers of Derek Bailey and the Story of Free Improvisation don't have to wade into his 400-plus page biography of the great British guitarist, however, to perceive Watson's put-up-your-dukes method of critical inquiry: The story of "Free Improvisation"?

O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing: Anthony Braxton’s Speculative Music

In this article, composer and educator Mike Heffley analyzes the libretto and score of a Braxton's magnum opus, the opera Trillium R (Shala Fears for the Poor) of 1991. With the term "speculative music,"  Heffley designates music as a "speculum," or a mirror of the natural world or cosmic order. Heffley considers the opera's libretto in the context of the entire corpus of Braxton's writings, particularly his Tri-Axium Writings of 1985. Heffley argues that Braxton's use of language is "a driving force behind, first, his music, and, further, his body of work as a whole . . ."

Researching the New Orleans-Chicago Jazz Connection: Tools and Methods

Black Music Research Journal

This article discusses the research methods and issues involved in investigating the musical migration from New Orleans to Chicago in the early 20th century and surveys research sources on this period of early jazz. Wang seeks to put several myths to rest, such as that of a musical exodus after the closing of Storyville, New Orleans' red light district, and of a rapid, unidirectional flow of talent between the two cities.

New Monastery: Monk and the Jazz Avant-Garde


Kelly argues that Thelonious Monk's popular success, along with the emergence of free jazz in the 1960s, changed the terms of critical reception for the previously misunderstood composer and pianist. Conservative critics, and some liberal ones, suddenly embraced Monk as a foil against the free jazz rebellion, while defenders of the avant-garde often sought to claim Monk as one of their own-though these younger musicians sometimes challenged Monk's musical conceptions.

Improvisation, Correlation, and Vibration: An Interview with Steve Coleman

Critical Studies in Improvisation

In this Berlin-New York phone interview, saxophonist Steve Coleman presents what Völtz calls his "philosophy of cosmic energy," and his ideas on improvisation, language, structure, freedom, and innovation, often making his points with the help of anecdotes about from his own career.

Review—Playing Ad Lib: Improvisatory Music in Australia 1836-1970


In Playing Ad Lib, musicologist John Whiteoak explores improvisation in music that was never recorded. His evidence consists of print sources and anecdotes from throughout Australia. These include incomplete scores, published execution "methods" (e.g., for playing ragtime), snippets of advertisements, and published stories.

“’How You Sound??’: Amiri Baraka Writes Free Jazz.”

Harris' essay examines the ways authors Amiri Baraka and Ishmael Reed translated elements of jazz-particularly free jazz-into literary expression. Baraka believed that free jazz captured what was most valuable in the black tradition and updated it to respond to contemporary phenomena. Harris makes reference to the authors' written work and to Baraka's actual spoken performances.


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White Anglo-Saxon Pythagorean (Roswell Rudd)


Rudd's facility on the trombone and range of timbral effects placed him among the vanguard of the free jazz movement in the 1960s. It was rare at that time to find a trombonist who, according to Davis, could compete with "saxophonists who were bidding their horns to speak in tongues." Rudd nevertheless later experienced the economic consequences of staying dedicated to his art: Davis finds him playing in a Catskills resort in the early 1990s.


Out There (Charles Gayle)


Charles Gayle was uncompromising even by the standards of free jazz, and his career has been virtually invisible. Davis recounts a brief interview with the elusive saxophonist and reviews his three comeback CDs and a rare appearance at New York's Knitting Factory. Davis' portrait of Gayle illustrates how he became a legend in the mid-1960s, when Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp were making their mark, and why he still amazes.



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