Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jimmy Giuffre - Free Fall (1963)

After Ornette Coleman had his way with jazz, tearing it down from the inside to see what it was made of (thereby creating "free" jazz); it opened the door for such greats as Cecil Taylor, Eric Dolphy, Sun Ra, John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders and Jimmy Giuffre to stretch out and do their collective "thing". On this album, recorded in 1962 by the Jimmy Giuffre 3 with Giuffre (clarinet), previously featured Out Sounds-favorite Paul Bley (piano) and Steve Swallow (bass); the trio set out to create a free jazz masterpiece, and the results are stunning and provocative, maybe even more so than any of the aforementioned performer's works.

The reason I say so is because of Giuffre's study of microtonal music; or the idea that there exists between the 12-note scale another series of "micro" tones (this idea was also being studied by Harry Partch; who later expanded his ideas by writing charts explaining these tones as well as building many instruments to play these new "notes"). The clarinet (as well as most of the woodwind family) are able to play quarter tones; and Giuffre gave his music a wider palette by playing with a non-traditional up-front weapon. He was overlooked for some ridiculous reasons- he played the clarinet, not considered a pure lead jazz instrument like the sax or trumpet; his music wasn't like the "energy" or "fire music" that Archie Shepp and Sun Ra were playing, his was more pointillistic, spatial, subdued and airy. No one was ready for this music.

This record anticipated the Free Improvisation movement by a good five years; by combining elements of the Third Stream school, free jazz, the avant-garde as well as classical indeterminacy, Free Fall is an exciting listen to a set of a ferociously abstract and investigative tracks. This is the 1998 re-issue with bonus tracks.


rintesh said...

An outstanding album and pretty much ahead of its time. I think Jimmy Giuffre was doing what Miles Davis started doing in the late '60s, may be in a different way.

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