Editors’ Notes Beginning in the late ‘40s, a small group of jazz musicians sought freedom from the strictures of fixed rhythms and rigid chord changes. With his debut album in 1958, alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman made ignoring chord patterns a full-time practice, letting melodic improvisation roam freely. In the ‘60s, free jazz became more abstract and aggressive, with musicians like Albert Ayler and John Coltrane pursuing a deeply spiritual quest blending virtuosity with pure expression. The aesthetic exploded outside the U.S., allowing Europeans like Derek Bailey and Peter Brötzmann a platform to find a voice not indebted to American jazz tradition.

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