Ten Free Jazz Albums to Hear Before You Die

Free jazz is a bit of a nebulous thing. All Music Guide lists Thurston Moore, Charlie Haden, and Eric Dolphy, among others, as its key artists, and even Ornette Coleman, whose album Free Jazz arguably launched the genre, later publicly dismissed it as a genre. Still, whatever you want to call it, the type of playing that Coleman pioneered — the endless tangents, aborted themes and searing improvisational stabs of noise — became a style that would influence generations of jazz and rock artists. This playlist, from the Village Voice’s archives, captures some of the highlights of that style. This is definitely a narrower (and more current) take on the genre — there is no Thurston Moore, but Sharp also leaves out Don Cherry and Cecil Taylor, two very important musicians I generally have associated with the genre. Still, this remains a compelling playlist.