FreeStyle – The Avant Garde Way

Coltrane’s Freestyle

Breaking conventions of the day – a blueprint for hip-hop

Though the music produced by free jazz pioneers varied widely, the common feature was a dissatisfaction with the limitations of bebop, hard bop, and modal jazz, which had developed in the 1940s and ’50s. Each in their own way, free jazz musicians attempted to alter, extend, or break down the conventions of jazz, often by discarding hitherto invariable features of jazz, such as fixed chord changes or tempos. While usually considered experimental and avant-garde, free jazz has also oppositely been conceived as an attempt to return jazz to its “primitive,” often religious roots, and emphasis on collective improvisation.

Free jazz is most strongly associated with the ’50s innovations of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor and the later works of saxophonist John Coltrane. Other important pioneers included Eric Dolphy, Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, Bill Dixon, and Sun Ra.

Starting in bebop and hard bop, Coltrane later pioneered free jazz. He influenced generations of other musicians, and remains one of the most significant tenor saxophonists in jazz history. He was astonishingly prolific: he made about fifty recordings as a leader in his twelve-year-long recording career, and appeared as a sideman on many other albums, notably with trumpeter Miles Davis.

Here are some classic compositions from Coltrane and Davis:

I say all this to state that hip-hop is in a similar state that jazz was in; and hip-hop is in dire need of something to break it from the current dismal convention – luckily, we have a few artists that are defying limits like Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, but we need more or I fear that my little baby nephew will think that stringing a bunch of similies together and shouting on the track is ‘hip-hop’ …. (I shudder the thought).

.:: LiBM ::.

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