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European free jazz

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European free jazz

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European free jazz is a part of the global free jazz scene with its own development and characteristics. It is hard to establish who is the founding father of European free jazz because of the different developments in different European countries. One can, however, be certain that European free jazz took its development from American free jazz, where e.g. Ornette Coleman revolutionised the way of playing.



The founders of European free jazz usually came from a classic jazz background and then went over bebop and hardbop into free jazz. Some people credit the German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann with the starting of free jazz in the 1960s. He is renown for his violent play, although the harmonies in his play are often overheard. His protegee Peter Kowald interpreted free jazz on the double bass. Trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff, although coming from a more classic background, had great influence too. Alexander von Schlippenbach's Globe Unity Orchestra created a big scandal at its debut in Berlin.

East Germany

In East Germany, trombonist Conny Bauer and drummer Günter Sommer spread free jazz in the Socialist block.


In the UK the saxophonist Evan Parker who was highly influenced by John Coltrane took on the role of Brötzmann for Britain. The guitarist Derek Bailey and trombonist Paul Rutherford also developped the British scene.


Today the free jazz players of the 1960s and 1970s have aged considerably. Many young players have gone into the direction of more experimental play, called free improvisation, which completely neglects the jazz idiom.

External Links

European free improvisation at Sheffield (many free jazz players)

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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