#1
As you may know (or not), we recently lost Ornette Coleman.

Coleman was a true jazz giant who pioneered the burgeoning "free jazz" movement, which grew as a reaction AGAINST bebop, in the same way that modal jazz and other later forms of jazz would.

As jazz grew, musicians began moving to increasingly elaborate chord progressions and harmonic structures, seeking to advance the music. The tempos increased, and the chords became insane, and bebop was developed as a 'next level' of jazz.

However some musicians (Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, and many others) saw the increasingly complex music as a prison instead of liberation, where they were becoming slaves to the tune and chord changes, as well as expectations of the audience and other musicians, causing them to seek out new forms of Jazz and expression.

Coleman would rebel by removing all harmonic instruments from his group. The classic Ornette Coleman quartet consisted of bass, sax, trumpet, and drums. Along with Don Cherry, Charlie Hayden, and Billy Higgins, the group would do away with all harmonic structures.

Now, this doesn't mean the music has no direction. But you need to listen to it in a different way, the melody is king, now that the harmony and form are abstract, and the biggest factor now is not the individual soloists and compers, but the CONVERSATION that is constantly happening between the bandmates. When Coleman has the lead, he isn't soloing. Everyone is soloing, and no one is. It's four musicians talking to each other. You can hear the conversation.

What ISN'T going on is a bunch of musicians playing at random, or a bunch of dudes who "can't play".

Coleman and co. were all HIGHLY, HIGHLY accomplished bebop musicians who could totally murder any progression you put in front of them. But that isn't what's going on here. The reason they are playing so far out is because they know exactly what to avoid to keep it from sounding harmonic. There are still chords, sure, but no progressions and the like.

This music isn't about conveying a structured tune clearly. It's about listening to your bandmates, and responding, and continuing that cycle. Listen to how everyone's lines still have INTERNAL logic, and are developed as such, albeit in a more abstract manner, since everyone is playing off each other, not the chords on the page.

Here's a selection of Coleman tunes, ranging from his early seminal work, The Shape of Jazz to Come, ramping the abstraction up until the landmark recording Free Jazz, which features a double quartet and no harmonic instruments.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNbD1JIH344

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=405MdvmBoAU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPWFIuuntE4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbZIiom9rDA

R.I.P. Ornette. Stop putting music into a box. There is no box.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#2
Well said Jet, I urge anyone who is trying to get into free Jazz to pay special attention to this part.
Quote by Jet Penguin

This music isn't about conveying a structured tune clearly. It's about listening to your bandmates, and responding, and continuing that cycle. Listen to how everyone's lines still have INTERNAL logic, and are developed as such, albeit in a more abstract manner, since everyone is playing off each other, not the chords on the page.


May you forever rest in peace Ornette Coleman. Thank you for showing me that there are no rules.
#3
Thank you for this thread Jet. Incidentally, I was indeed learning some bebop chord theory today and I was getting frustrated with the seemingly rigid set of rules in this seemingly free and experimental music known as jazz. Thanks for pulling me back to earth and reminding that music is the absolute opposite of a strict set of rules. And even though I'm not familiar with Omette's work, I'm getting interested, and it's nice to know that I'm not even near to running out of new things to learn.
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#4
where's the charlemagne thread tho
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#5
Your other thread killed him.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#6
Yeah Kevatuhri, bop can appear constricting due to the very high skill floor that it has.

The need to be harmonically coherent over that many chords can sometimes dictate what you play too much, hence the rebellion against it.

You can be just as creative over bebop harmony, but it's a different animal.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#7
Bebop puts the "harm" in harmony.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#8
Or you could, you know, contribute to the discussion in a meaningful way for once.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#9
I'm going to be honest, despite studying jazz performance i never really got into the realm of free jazz during my studies. Most likely because i was busy doing those years studying and emulating Bebop musicians and later on jazz-fusion players.

However, it is always a sad thing when a great musician passes away, and especially those that have made a great contribution to the styles as a whole. When i read the news of Colemans passing it made me curious to research the work of him and his peers once again, this time with a few more years of musical maturity, more time and more of an open mind.

I've got to say that discovering (or more accurately, re-discovering him) Coleman and his peers is probably one of the best things i've done in a while. He was truly a unique musician, and his work will keep me and other players occupied for decades to come.

To skip all the sentimental stuff, i think it is a great service you are doing here Jet. Giving recognition to a musician that just left us for what he brought to the music we love. And thanks again for re-introducing me to Coleman, needed that!
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

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#10
Hey no problem.

I feel like Coleman is pretty misunderstood as "some guy who just played ugly crap and called it art", so I wanted to clear things up.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#11
"Free Jazz" was one of the first jazz albums I got into. I remember listening to the first track over and over trying to figure out what was going on, following the bass and the trumpet. I never would've given it so much time if my guitar teacher hadn't given it to me to listen to, but I had a lot of respect for him and therefore was willing to put in a little extra effort.

I'm listening to Una Muy Bonita for the third time now!
#12
I love that track it's so nice

I love how Billy Higgins almost throws in a backbeat at points.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#13
If you don't play all the youtube links op provided simultaneously, you're doing it wrong.
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#14
^Not exactly the ethos of free jazz, but an interesting experiment nonetheless.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp