Monday, April 27, 2009

Jimmy Giuffre - Free Fall (Columbia, 1962)

Seeing as this received a crown in the Penguin Guide and influenced Ken Vandermark to the point that he named one of his groups after it, I knew I wanted to give it a try, but but found it to be tough sledding indeed. I react viscerally and and immediately to the type of avant-garde jazz that is loud and penetrating, uptempo music with the Beats "go man, go" philosophy; but the abstract slower and more pointillist type of improvisation is very difficult for me, and leaves me confused with a vague feeling of inadequacy. I know this is my weakness as a listener and that my lack of patience robs me of many great musical experiences. The music here is slow building, moving and darting almost taunting in its impenetrability. Divided by thirds into solos for Guiffrie, duos and trios, it strikes me as the aural representation of Jackson Pollock's drip painting technique, in the case, drips of musical color dot the landscape or canvas, a splash of clarinet, a fragmented piano chord, an isolated note from the bass. I know from my reading that Ornette Coleman's band shocked the jazz world around this time with their free improvisations, but it seems to me that Coleman was firmly grounded in Charlie Parker's vision of bebop as well as Texas R&B. What must people have thought of this intractable music Giuffre was presenting, sounding like it was beaming in from an alternate Universe?
Free Fall - (mp3 version)

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