Free Jazz - A Collective Improvisation

Label
Atlantic
Running length
2 tracks
Running time
37:05

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Tracklist

    Track     Duration Listeners
1 Part 1 19:35 1,838
2 Part 2 17:30 2,345

About this album

Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation is an album by jazz saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman, recorded in 1960. The original release embodied a painting by Jackson Pollock, on the front of the cover, and its title gave the name for the whole free jazz movement. It involves two separate quartets, one to each stereo channel; the rhythm sections play simultaneously, and though there is a succession of solos as is usual in jazz, they are peppered with freeform commentaries by the other horns that often turn into full-scale collective improvisation. The pre-composed material is a series of brief, dissonant fanfares for the horns which serve as interludes between solos. Not least among the album’s achievements was that it was the first LP-length improvisation, nearly forty minutes in length, which was unheard of at the time.

The album was identified by Chris Kelsey in his Allmusic essay “Free Jazz: A Subjective History” as one of the 20 Essential Free Jazz Albums.[1] It served as the blueprint for later large-ensemble free jazz recordings such as John Coltrane’s Ascension and Peter Brötzmann’s Machine Gun.

As jazz’s first extended, continuous free improvisation LP, Free Jazz practically defies superlatives in its historical importance. Ornette Coleman’s music had already been tagged “free,” but this album took the term to a whole new level. Aside from a predetermined order of featured soloists and several brief transition signals cued by Coleman, the entire piece was created spontaneously, right on the spot.

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