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Thread: Free Guitarists

  1. #1

    Free Guitarists

    This thread is not meant for bashing or controversy. I remember an old thread about a certain free improviser that resulted in a lot of argument.

    In a few weeks I'm going to have a go at playing in a free jazz ensemble, and I've been drawing from improvisers that inspire me for ideas. Some are more well known than others. Here are a few. I'll start with one that is relatively less well known but one of my favorites:

    1) Jeff Parker

    I've had the fortune of seeing him play several times and taking a few lessons from him. He has a strong funk and hip hop influence as well as bebop. Some of his melodic ideas come from modern classical music (check out references to Stravinsky's cantata in his latest album).




    2) Derek Bailey (obviously)


    3) Otomo Yoshihide


    4) Taku Sugimoto
    Minimal but wholly entrancing music.


    5) Mary Halvorson
    I like her stuff with Thumbscrew the best. Very cool sound, incorporating non-tonal harmony and free improvisation in very elaborately composed and arranged music.


    6) Nels Cline
    Clearly has a strong rock influence. I think he has spent a lot of time getting to know his effects and he uses them very well in improvisation.



    7) Bill Frisell
    I'm always amazed at how he's able to say so much by doing so little. He has a large presence, but always provides context for free interaction.


    8) Marc Ribot
    Love his incorporation of the gritty blues sound in the genre.


    9) Eugene Chadbourne
    A country-playing maniac.

  2. #2
    Frisell is one of my favorite "free" players (I say "free" in quotes because so much of this stuff still has structure and form, just perhaps not "chord changes")...it's hard to play free in the first place, but to play free in a ballad format...crazy hard! I think of some of the free improvisations on his records with Lovano/Motian...

    I love to play free...I spend some time doing it every day...maybe I'll post some here sometime...it usually goes over like a lead balloon...

    Playing free on guitar is tough...these are some nice examples you posted.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Of what use is a dream, if not a blueprint for courageous action?"

    --Adam West, as Batman, 1966.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    I think of some of the free improvisations on his records with Lovano/Motian...
    "I have the room above her" comes to mind: Frisell, Lovano, Motian. What a mood that whole record has. That's actually an interesting example. The form doesn't seem to have been pre-defined and the improvisation is unscripted, but the outcome is very tonal.



    I'd love to hear some of your free playing, Jeff.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by omphalopsychos View Post
    "I have the room above her" comes to mind: Frisell, Lovano, Motian. What a mood that whole record has. That's actually an interesting example. The form doesn't seem to have been pre-defined and the improvisation is unscripted, but the outcome is very tonal.



    I'd love to hear some of your free playing, Jeff.
    Well, thank you, I'll indulge myself (and subject others) soon.

    Yeah, "I have the room" is probably a desert island disc for me...and yes, very tonal, very melodic, but parts of that record are definitely "hiking without a compass." I suppose it depends on how players hear things, Frisell and Lovano are such great melodic players, they're not going to shed that completely, even when not restricted to chord changes.

    Motian's playing on those records is just amazing to me...the drums become a third melody instrument. Talk about playing pulse and not time!
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Of what use is a dream, if not a blueprint for courageous action?"

    --Adam West, as Batman, 1966.

  5. #5
    The annual Motian/Frisell/Lovano gig at the Vanguard was a must attend event for me for years. Oh, do I miss that band...

    Bill Frisell is playing with the Bad Plus there in October.

  6. #6
    This be me when I get like lost in the changes. These things happen and you go from in the pocket to free....
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  7. #7
    Sonny Sharrock, this one Last Exit was pretty up there with tsunami jazz but he's done so much in many sound genres.



    Bern Nix once with Ornette's Prime Time, in a nice solo exploration



    Garrison Fewell combined his deep rooting in traditional bebop with the world of free jazz that opened up to him. We had many a late night talk sharing our worlds and the characters that populated them. A very overlooked figure in the free scene.



    David

  8. #8
    Can't forget Elliott Sharp! Here he is performing some mutilations of Monk's corpus.


  9. #9
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    There's a guy in NY, Dom Minasi. I'm surprised no one's mentioned him. I knew about him for years and we finally spoke on the phone before I split the Mango. Real good cat.

    He has as much grounding in 'in' playing as anyone, so he's no BSer. I'll post some stuff when I have time. Very interesting stuff, and I admire not only his courage, but anyone who would stake out such a chancy territory (I mean career-wise). That stuff ain't for the feint of heart...
    Charlie Christian got me in a world of trouble

    ---Me

  10. #10

  11. #11
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    some great names^...(sharrock!) but not yet mentioned-

    pete cosey, keith rowe of the amm (very early 60's uk ), sonny greenwich, fred frith, arto lindsay, tisziji munoz, gerry fitzgerald, hans reichel

    a great site for this kind of stuff is

    PREPARED GUITAR

    sadly the site has been dormant for awhile now, but still has much great info archived

    here's pete cosey with miles..the fireworks begin around the 5 minute mark



    cheers

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic View Post
    some great names^...(sharrock!) but not yet mentioned-

    pete cosey, keith rowe of the amm (very early 60's uk ), sonny greenwich, fred frith, arto lindsay, tisziji munoz, gerry fitzgerald, hans reichel

    a great site for this kind of stuff is

    PREPARED GUITAR

    sadly the site has been dormant for awhile now, but still has much great info archived

    here's pete cosey with miles..the fireworks begin around the 5 minute mark



    cheers
    Damn! that was cool. What a lineup in that band. Watching miles 'conduct' is pretty neat too.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by fasstrack View Post
    There's a guy in NY, Dom Minasi. I'm surprised no one's mentioned him. I knew about him for years and we finally spoke on the phone before I split the Mango. Real good cat.

    He has as much grounding in 'in' playing as anyone, so he's no BSer. I'll post some stuff when I have time. Very interesting stuff, and I admire not only his courage, but anyone who would stake out such a chancy territory (I mean career-wise). That stuff ain't for the feint of heart...
    Good stuff! I had never heard him before, but there's loads of stuff on youtube. Wonderful to hear.


  14. #14
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    Loved Last Exit since I first heard them in 88.

    Chadbourne, though, doesn't seem to belong to free jazz to my ears. Bless his heart, but in the vid the OP posted and others, he's got a bit too much structure.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    So when does it stop being pretentious and self-indulgent and start being music? Just plinking some sounds out is NOT music as far as I'm concerned. A chimpanzee can do that, or a computer, or a 2-year old.

    I think the 'free' stuff has its place but I'm not sure what that place is, not as a serious art form, anyway. And not for very long.

    I do wish you'd discuss this!
    Hell yeah! I feel the same way about Bartok. Stop with the squawking why don't you?
    What were you thinking? No. I don't want to know. I just hear a two year old.
    I like Vivaldi. Enough with the other stuff.
    Yup, anybody can hear what they want, based on their knowledge, imagination and integrity. Same can be said of the creative process. Knowledge is the great leveler.

    David

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    I've never seen what lasting satisfaction they get out of it.

    And I should know!

    Bridge. Bridge. Where's the bridge?

    David

  17. #17
    That IS the bridge! I forgot the tune

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    That IS the bridge! I forgot the tune
    Want to do a mashup of your song with 4'33 ? Pretty easy A section but your time needs to be good.
    David

  19. #19
    Ragman, I'd be happy to discuss. Do you mind if we do so in another thread? I was hoping to keep this one as a repository of examples.
    Last edited by omphalopsychos; 09-15-2017 at 09:08 AM.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Thumpalumpacus View Post
    Loved Last Exit since I first heard them in 88.

    Chadbourne, though, doesn't seem to belong to free jazz to my ears. Bless his heart, but in the vid the OP posted and others, he's got a bit too much structure.
    Yeah I agree. I put him in there for kicks

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by omphalopsychos View Post
    Good stuff! I had never heard him before, but there's loads of stuff on youtube. Wonderful to hear.

    That's what's cool about these forums, turning each other on to cats, etc...
    Charlie Christian got me in a world of trouble

    ---Me

  22. #22
    David Tronzo is a master of unexpected form.



    Here's a duo of epic free-form duo-ists. Dave Tronzo and Mick Goodrick in a meeting of the minds.

    Free Guitarists-screen-shot-2017-09-15-9-34-39-am-png


    Eric Hofbauer combining form, free-form, fretted and slide



    David

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz View Post
    Want to do a mashup of your song with 4'33 ? Pretty easy A section but your time needs to be good.
    David
    There's no A section, Dave, it's just free playing. Technically there are no time issues either, it's just what it is.

  24. #24
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    Two germans from the former GDR:

    Joe Sachse & Uwe Kropinski


    They had a group called "Doppelmoppel" 2 trombones and 2 guitars


    Uwe Kropinski even invented his own guitar-pick

  25. #25
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    And a younger fellow:

    Ronny Graupe


    I especially love the drummer. His name is Christian Lillinger. You have to see him live! He's amazing!

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz View Post
    Knowledge is the great leveler.David
    Exactly! Knowledge is freedom, and ignorance slavery.

    As far as people putting down entire schools of music, I not only suspect their motives and ignorance, but the old Native American expression about 'walk a mile in my moccasins' comes to mind. If you can't do or get it, yet still put it down---shame on you...
    Charlie Christian got me in a world of trouble

    ---Me

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    So when does it stop being pretentious and self-indulgent and start being music? Just plinking some sounds out is NOT music as far as I'm concerned. A chimpanzee can do that, or a computer, or a 2-year old.

    I'm quite sure I'm not being a dinosaur, stuck in tradition. I've done enough non-trad stuff to know. But I also know that a continuous diet of it would only satisfy an eccentric or a weirdo. The human brain/mind prefers orderliness, harmony, balance. Only the strange or abnormal brain does not. It's like continuous tension without the release - it's only the release that gives the tension meaning.

    As I said, I've done quite a bit of it but I know why. It's good sometimes to break away from the restrictions of set harmonies. But it's a release, a temporary freedom which isn't really freedom at all. Most people need to go out now and again and get plastered, get the water off the chest, and all that. But that's not the same as living that way or doing it over-frequently.

    I think the 'free' stuff has its place but I'm not sure what that place is, not as a serious art form, anyway. And not for very long.

    I do wish you'd discuss this!
    I somewhat agree --a big part of music, to my ears, is the tension and release aspect of it. In that sense, I love outside/free playing. But the way my mind works, that free playing is only useful insofar as it takes me for a journey and then brings me back home; in that way it serves the song as well as the musician's ego That's a major reason why Vernon Reid is one of my favorite players -- he can get pretty outside (to the point that in the late 80s there were a substantial number of guitarists scoffing at the idea he had any skill at all) -- but then when he's taken me for a ride, he brings it back home to the song. The solo on title track to Time's Up exemplifies this pretty well, as does "Information Overload" from the same album, where he goes back and forth between inside and outside to great effect before bringing it home with some pentatonic licks in key.

    I couldn't listen to free jazz much beyond a track or two because I don't care for the feeling of being lost. To me it's like listening to someone speaking a foreign tongue; at first the simple sounds themselves might hold my interest, but eventually my non-comprehension frustrates me.

  28. #28
    I like this quote,

    "you have to be able to play way inside in order to play way outside"

    Last edited by jazzimprov; 09-15-2017 at 10:34 PM.

  29. #29
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    The wondrous places a 'free' imagination can take you

    "I thought I was in Heaven, but I was only up a tree"

  30. #30
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    When I listen to guitarists playing free jazz, I end up comparing them with the Grateful Dead who did hundreds of hours of free playing; sometimes it seems like jazz is catching up to where the Dead were 40 years ago.

    Here's a famous-in-the-Deadhead-world jam: Dark Star -> Wharf Rat -> Dark Star also known as "Beautiful Jam." 2/18/71. There are sections of free playing, sections of tunes, dynamics, shifts in groove... intuitive improvisational music, as Weir called it.



    And something interesting - "Just The Jams" from the famous May 1977 shows. Some of these are jams within tunes, some are between tunes (e.g., the segue from "Scarlet Begonias" to "Fire On The Mountain"), some are the famous/infamous "Space/Drums/Space" segments. Some are free, some are vamps. Stripped out of the songs, although you'll recognize them if you're familiar with the repertoire.



    The danger with playing free is that it can so easily suck, but it can also be so beautiful and astonishing. Takes guts to go out there and try, knowing that it is without a net.
    Last edited by Cunamara; 09-15-2017 at 09:08 PM.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

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