"Modern" has always been one of my least favorite genre prefixes. With the myriad of stylistic tags at artists' disposal, it seems like an odd choice to fixate on the recency of a piece of music as a means of describing its sound. As is demonstrated by any number of revivalist movements operating in the current music landscape, "modern" music isn't always a guarantee of fresh, forward-thinking ideas, and in my experience, the tag is often used to posture standard genre fare delivered with a newer sheen as something new and revelatory. Of course, there's an exception to every rule, and when it comes to this particular pet peeve of mine, I've never been happier to have a band prove me wrong as wrong as COAST do with their phenomenal self-titled debut. Every aspect of COAST embodies what "modern" jazz should represent. Over the course of the album's six brilliant tracks, the quartet executes jazz's greatest traits with precision and agility. In short, COAST offers everything jazz fans love about the genre, except this time, it's simply performed at a better, higher level.
Regardless of one's musical background, free jazz is one of those genres that can be extremely confusing and often border on nonsensical and sonically belligerent. There are even fans of jazz who still can't get into the likes of the late works of John Coltrane or anything made by Pharaoh Sanders, preferring instead to listen to other, less insane iterations of the genre. While we believe that music's value is something strictly decided by the listener, we've also found that, despite the difficulty of the genre, free jazz is incredibly rewarding. There's something undeniably special about musicians that can improvise; if music is the expression of the soul, then free jazz is the direct output of an unrestrained musical voice. While it can sound like noise, it's in fact a huge show of musicianship, as the artist in question must compress everything they know about music theory into one single point and, in a sense, abandon the strictures it causes for what they feel. In this way, we think free jazz can be one of the most magical and spiritually uplifting genres of music out there, and for those interested in exploring the genre further, the following albums are great introductions to the most liberated plane of jazz.