Free Jazz – “Free” Side of Jazz Music

Free jazz is a type of modern music that doesn’t follow the usual rules of tonal organization, bluesy chord progression, and swing rhythms.

The focus is now placed on spontaneous group improvisation. Due to the range of expressive tools, the sensuality, and intellect of free jazz music are recognized.

The free jazz style was established by pianist Cecil Taylor and saxophonist Ornette Coleman in the second part of the 1950s. It was also influenced by San Ra, Archie Shepp, Arthur Doyle, Barton Green, and the late John Coltrane.

Free jazz is seen as inventive and adventurous. Nonetheless, some music theorists see it as an effort to reconnect with the ethnic and religious foundations of traditional jazz.

In English, free jazz is called “abstract,” “new phenomenon,” and “avant-garde,” though the latter is a much broader term that differs from free jazz in its compositional ideas. The term “free jazz” was coined in 1960 by Ornette Coleman for his album of the same name.

Free Jazz Definitions

The great majority of contemporary jazz forms use the performer’s voice as their central element. Classical jazz, meanwhile, is based on compositional intentions.

E. Barban, a scholar of jazz forms, argues that any performance or artistic expression of music meets the criterion of an artwork. In this case, skill helps turn the musician’s personality into a set of symbols that can be studied as works of art.

Similar to the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, Barban believes exaltation, spontaneity, affect, and mental preoccupation to be the most important artistic elements of free jazz.


At that time, a radical mass self-determination of black performers was occurring. They were coming into their own, and their music was breaking away from tonal structures, harmony, and the European way of doing things.

Free jazz has never attempted to conceal its ideological foundation, social protest, or radical nature. Because of this, it is very hard to come up with a single cultural philosophy for free jazz and organize it.

Free jazz is plainly centered on the self-awareness and authenticity of black people, yet despite this, the style is vulnerable to symbiotic fusion with other cultures, often those with whom it is in conflict. These crossings may reflect the desire to assimilate the spiritual and aesthetic characteristics of a different ethnicity.

Therefore, Indian culture, with its rich rhythm and Buddhist ideals, attracted free jazz. And Arabian designs made their way into it because many artists became Muslims.

Religion in general became a source of inspiration for free-jazz musicians, and you can hear it in the music and see it in the song titles, album names, and CD artwork.

Virtually all distinctions between noise and melodic sound are eliminated in free jazz. Its performers think that almost any sound may be included in the composition, even if it seems to have nothing to do with it at first.

You just need to be creative in digesting it and incorporating it into your improvisation. Modern academic avant-gardists use a similar strategy, making these two approaches comparable.

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