by Margriet Naber, 2021
John Tchicai: A chaos with some kind of order is the story of a pioneering saxophonist, composer and teacher of jazz music and improvisation, an artist who wanted his music to contribute to ‘a better realization of the oneness of all beings’.
Just as Tchicai (1936-2012) married improvisation with composition in his music, so he found a balance between chaos and order in his long and inspiring life. A mixed-race kid in Denmark in the ’40s and a leading saxophonist from the ’60s and onwards, he co-founded the celebrated New York Art Quartet, played with Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and was invited by John Coltrane to contribute to his landmark 1965 album Ascension. His playful, hands-on improvisation teaching method was new and unique. A strong sense of spirituality was his beacon.
Written by a fellow artist and teacher who shared his life in America and Europe for many years, the first full-scale biography of this extraordinary musician blends the personal with the informative. Margriet Naber creates a collage of life story, quotes, teaching methods, poems, charts, transcribed solos and many photos. To those looking for ways to allow more freedom into their lives or music, to get out of a set routine or to improvise without getting lost, this book offers valuable guidance.
Introduction – A chaos with some kind of order
1 PLAYING HIS WAY TO NEW YORK
2 COOKING IN NEW YORK
3 BACK TO DENMARK
Meditating with John
5 EXPANDING, ENLARGING
6 WORKSHOP IN ROTTERDAM
8 SETTLING IN FRANCE
Appendix 1: Advice to improvisers
Appendix 2: Some examples of John’s more experimental performances
Appendix 3: Making a setlist
Appendix 4: Music chart examples
Appendix 5: Discography
Other resources for John Tchicai’s music
Book clips, segments, photographs
A chaos with some kind of order
Segment: John Tchicai about John Coltrane
Transcription of “Love is Touching”
Segment: Creative work, spiritual work