Free (Jazz) and (the Big) Easy


The Art Ensemble of Chicago. Photo: Jacky Lepage

Want to hear more music relating to our April 2016 issue? You’ve come to the right place; check out the playlist below. Track 1 is by Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, our Who’s News pick for the month. Tracks 2-9 feature a variety of artists from the latest addition to our Music of the States series, Louisiana. Note in particular the lead/rhythm fiddle arrangement in Dennis McGee’s version of “Cowboy Waltz.” Tracks 10-15 delve further into free jazz, including the first take of the Ornette Coleman piece that gave the style its name. Both “Free Jazz” and John Coltrane’s “Mars,” a duet with drummer Rashied Ali, are presented in their entirety, and they’re LONG, so please be aware of that. Paul Bley’s “Ida Lupino” features, in addition to Bley himself on piano, three notable free players: Paul Motian on drums, Gary Peacock on bass, and John Gilmore on tenor saxophone. The latter is most famous for his work with Sun Ra, who’s also represented here. Our final audio track (scroll down further for video) is “Immm” by the Art Ensemble of Chicago—wacky stuff, to be sure, but also firmly rooted in a folk tradition going back to Southern field hollers and the music of West Africa.

Bonus video round: If you enjoyed our Now Playing article on the super-rare Conn-O-Sax and want to know what that instrument sounds like, here’s a clip of famed jazz saxophonist James Carter testing one out, recorded a few years back at the Saxquest shop in St. Louis, Missouri.