Heavy Vanguard: Ornette Coleman // Free Jazz [20th Episode!]

So, twenty episodes, and we’re still kicking…I guess that’s something to be proud of!

Anyway, when we come to special numbers of episodes, Scott and I like to pick an album that’s had a huge effect on us and talk about it without worrying about the thirty-minute timer. For our tenth episode we covered Miles Davis‘s Bitches Brew, and we again dive into jazz territory with Ornette Coleman‘s Free Jazz.

We’ve talked about free jazz and free improvisation before (sometimes not even via Heavy Vanguard), and we’ve mentioned Coleman a few times, but usually not for too long, which is too bad, since he’s almost solely responsible for free jazz being the way it is today. Although the likes of ColtranePharaoh Sanders, and Albert Ayler were crucial in refining the genre, Ornette was basically the spark for the whole proverbial powder keg.

As important as this album is, though, it’s not particularly accessible. It’s a tough listen, especially if you’re used to bop or more other “normal” forms of jazz. Although Scott and I both adore this album and highly recommend it, it might be easier to start with Coleman’s previous work, such as The Shape of Jazz To Come, which, while still highly improvisational,  comes with more of a musical structure.

In any case, good luck, and thanks for listening!

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