European free jazz  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

European free jazz is a part of the global free jazz scene with its own development and characteristics. It is hard to establish who is the founding father of European free jazz because of the different developments in different European countries. One can, however, be certain that European free jazz took its development from American free jazz, where musicians such as Ornette Coleman revolutionised the way of playing.


The founders of European free jazz usually came from a classic jazz background and then went over bebop and hardbop into free jazz. Some people credit the German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann with the starting of free jazz in the 1960s. He is renowned for his violent playing, although the harmonies in his playing are often overlooked. His collaborator Peter Kowald interpreted free jazz on the double bass. Trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff, although coming from a more classic background, also had great influence. Alexander von Schlippenbach's Globe Unity Orchestra created a big scandal at its debut in Berlin.

In Germany some of the 2nd generation free jazz players came from a more European music background, like Georg Gräwe, Theo Jörgensmann or Hannes Bauer. In East Germany, trombonist Conny Bauer and drummer Günter Sommer spread free jazz in the Socialist block. In the UK the saxophonist Evan Parker who was highly influenced by John Coltrane took on the role of Brötzmann for Britain. The guitarist Derek Bailey and trombonist Paul Rutherford also developed the British scene.

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