Ten Free Jazz Albums to Hear Before You Die

Categories: Jazz


3. Black Artists Group
BAG In Paris - Aries 1973
Founded in St. Louis in the mid-1960s, the Black Artists Group was a collective of black artists, poets, playwrights and musicians, including Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake, Hamiet Bluiett and Baikida Carrol. In 1969, BAG took over a warehouse in St. Louis where they'd host concerts, plays, film screenings, and art exhibitions. Among the group's incredibly rare recordings is this gem snatched from a Paris gig in 1973.


2. Chris Corsano/Virginia Genta
The Live in Lisbon
Here's something newer. The drummer Chris Corsano's everywhere. He has worked with free jazz old-schoolers like Joe McPhee (see Nation Time) and Evan Parker, and also with Björk and Rangda (with Sir Richard Bishop and Ben Chasny). The abrasive Italian saxophonist Virginia Genta plays with the various Jooklo ensembles, and has collaborated with folks like C. Spencer Yeh and Mats Gustafsson. The two united on this small porch in Portugal, and some brilliant bedlam ensued. Complete rage.


1. Matana Roberts
Coin Coin Chapter One: Les gens de couleur libres
Maybe you know the saxophonist Matana Roberts because she played on Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Yanqui U.X.O., but you should know her for other reasons. Roberts would almost definitely object to this being called a "free jazz" album, but I think it is the best free jazz album to come out in the last 10 years. Released last year on Constellation, Roberts leads this large ensemble on an epic, beautiful, tragic and triumphant journey through the history of Black American life and music.



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6 comments
evanafterall
evanafterall

Interesting list, very thoughtful, but I'd just like to clarify that "free jazz" is literally free:  open improvisation with no written music.  At least half of the records you mentioned are composed works with elements of improvisation.  And i know some of the artists you mentioned, like Braxton and Dixon, hate having their music called "free jazz".  They are composers and want to be considered as such.  "Avant-Garde Jazz" would be a more appropriate and inclusive term. 

epistrophyarts
epistrophyarts

haters gonna hate.... thanks for giving this music a shout out... these 10 records and countless others should be celebrated whenever possible...

 

neorealist
neorealist

No Interstellar Space by John Coltrane?  Touchin on Trane-Charles Gayle/William Parker/Rashied Ali? And not even Albert Ayler-Spiritual Unity????  

I have grave doubts about this piece.

sleepless
sleepless

It's just really strange to put such great names on the bottom of the chart and these newer, mediocre musicians on top of them.

tru2blu
tru2blu

For the record, the writer is NOT the musician Elliott Sharp.

sleepless
sleepless

It should be illegal to write bs like this. Proof if proof was needed that Elliot sharp is not just a mediocre musician but also a terrible writer.

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