John Butcher on the “Free” in “Free” Improv

June 12th, 2011 |  Published in Blog

Just a quick post -I wanted to share this excellent piece by sax giant John Butcher on a fairly under (though fairly often) examined point – how free is free improvisation, and why? Freedom is such a broad word – it has a variety of meanings and powerful associations – the freedom of John Coltrane’s late music was as much spiritual and social as musical and he retained a relation to Jazz idiom which to musicians steeped in Derek Bailey’s non-idiomatic freedom might not seem terribly free – though arguably that freedom has now acquired certain idiomatic qualities also.

Butcher has played in as many different free contexts as any other improviser going – from various quick-moving post-Bailey groups to the freedom-within-composition of Polwechsel to the laminal long form freedom of AMM. He’s also one of the most intelligent, single-minded and articulate players on the scene so it’s no surprise that this essay delivers. Well worth a read for anyone with an interest or involvement in free music of any kind.

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June 12th, 2011 | by | Published in Blog