Top ten from the free jazz underground

by Thurston Moore in Grand Royal No. 2, 1995

Here’s a list of ten (out of hundreds of) LP’s recorded in total grassroots fashion from the FREE-JAZZ underground. These are fairly impossible to locate and if you want to know what FREE-JAZZ may sound like you can get CD’s of certain crucial classics where this music was allowed to exist: John Coltrane-Interstellar Space (Impulse/MCA), Ornette Coleman-Beauty Is A Rare Thing (Atlantic/Rhino), The Art Ensemble – 1967/68 (Nessa, PO Box 394, Whitehall, MI 49461), Sun Ra-various titles (Evidence)……..



Tchicai is a 6’6″ Danish/Congolese tenor sax player who, in the early 60’s, started blowing minds all across the Netherlands with his radical “music for the future”. Archie Shepp encouraged him to come to NYC and join like-minded souls of avant-guardia. Tchicai came over and kicked everybodys ass. Leroi Jones shouted his name and talent loudly as Tchicai hooked up with Shepp and Don Cherry for the New York Contemporary Five and later an even heavier ensemble with Milford Graves and Roswell Rudd called the New York Art Quartet. The NYAQ recorded one of the most crucial sessions for ESP-Disk (esp1004) which had Leroi reciting his infamous BLACK DADA NIHILISMUS (available on CD from Forced Exposure). AFRODISIACA was released in Germany (and in other re-release configurations…supposedly) and is Tchicai gathered with 25 other local-Euro musicians playing a hurricane of a piece by trumpet/composer Hugh Steinmetz. This music gets way way out and has the real ability to take you “there”. The echo effect on some of this shit is quite ill in a very analog way. And the way the shit gets that dirty-needled distortion at the end of side one (all 25 cats GOING AT IT!) is beautiful, baby, BEAUTIFUL!!