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James Chance

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A key figure in No Wave Chance has been playing a combination of improvisational jazz-like music and punk in the New York music scene since the late 1970s, in such bands as Teenage Jesus & The Jerks, James Chance & The Contortions, James White and The Blacks, The Flaming Demonics, James Chance & the Sardonic Symphonics, and James Chance & Terminal City.

Chance differed from some of his No Wave compatriots by possessing (and demanding from his band) a certain level of musical skill and talent. His music is frequently described as combining the freeform playing of Ornette Coleman with the solid funk rhythm of James Brown, though filtered through a punk rock lens. Simon Reynolds, author of Rip It Up and Start Again : Postpunk 1978-1984, wrote:

And although “affection” is possibly an odd word to use in reference to a bunch of nihilists, I do feel fond of the No Wave people. James Chance’s music actually stands up really well, I think. (Listen to James Chance & the Contortions, “Contort Yourself,” 1979.)

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