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Toshiko Akiyoshi: "The Village"


In the sixties anyone who wanted to be taken seriously in jazz had to approach the musical substance more with a dissecting knife than with the traditional instruments. One had to separate structures, dissect rhythms, break conventions and avoid the traditional in new combinations. The free jazz of the 'sixties dropped those elements which for half a century had been seen as the essence of jazz -a strong beat, thematic form, rhythmic intensity (swing) and functional harmony - and in doing so created a form of improvisation which for all its freedom often sounded remarkably similar. At the same speed with which the interpreters pushed their way to ever equal freedom, there grew a dissatisfaction with the idea that this 'controlled chaos' should be considered the definitive way in the development of jazz. As a counter movement in the 'eighties, a number of new hybrids came into existence which were difficult to tell apart: jazz ond rock, folk and jazz, electronic music and free jazz, neo-bebop, minimal jazz, noise or punk-jazz.
In its beginnings, free jazz had the some kind of effect as serial music. Seriality led to total composition, free jazz led to total improvisation. Nowadays the serial phase is seen as historically consequent; no composer would now allow his music to be understood as purely serial. Seriality has been reduced to a serial technique. The same is true of free jazz, which has become one stylistic principle amongst many.