By Joachim-Ernst Berendt
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Extra resources for The Jazz Book: From Ragtime to the 21st Century
With free jazz the emancipation of European jazz got under way—not coincidentally somewhat later than American developments in the midsixties. Only with liberation from functional harmony and ongoing rhythm did European musicians really liberate themselves from imitation of American jazz. Of course, there had already been Django Reinhardt—the great exception— who exerted a stylistic influence on American jazz. But up to that point European musicians had been spellbound by American models. It’s interesting that initially, with the emergence of free jazz, nothing changed in this imitative relationship.
In the first sixty years of jazz history, the counterpart of jazz was European music. Interaction with the European musical tradition was by no means a marginal activity. Nearly all styles of jazz came into being in and through this dialectical interaction. In the process, the realm of what was meant by “European music” grew continually larger. To the ragtime pianists of the turn of the century, it meant the piano compositions of the nineteenth century. To the New Orleans musicians it meant French opera, Spanish circus music, and European marches.
The flow of “world music” into jazz, which was suddenly open to all the great musical cultures—from India to Africa, from Japan to Arabia. An emphasis on intensity unknown to earlier styles of jazz. Jazz had always been superior in intensity to other musical forms of the Western world, but never before had the accent been on intensity in such an ecstatic, orgiastic—sometimes even religious—sense as in free jazz. Many free-jazz musicians actually made a “cult” of intensity. An extension of musical sound into the realm of noise—having to do not so much with ugliness, unrest, aggression, or violence as with a sheer enjoyment of sound for its own sake.
The Jazz Book: From Ragtime to the 21st Century by Joachim-Ernst Berendt