Post Modern Jazz

While fusion seemed to dominate the jazz market in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, there were other developments as well. Some performers started borrowing from 20th century classical music as well as African and other forms of world music. These musicians include Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, saxophonists Anthony Braxton, David Murray, and Dewey Redman, clarinetist John Carter, pianists Carla Bley and Muhal Richard Abrams, the World Saxophone Quartet, featuring four saxophonists with no rhythm section, and the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, featuring trumpet player Lester Bowie and woodwind player Roscoe Mitchell. Their music tended to emphasize compositional elements more sophisticated than the head-solos-head form.

Some groups, such as Oregon, rejected the complexity and dissonance of modern jazz and played in a much simpler style, which has given rise to the current New Age music. On the other extreme are musicians like saxophonist John Zorn and guitarists Sonny Sharrock and Fred Frith, who engaged in a frenetic form of free improvisation sometimes called energy music. Somewhere in between was the long lived group formed by saxophonist George Adams, who was influenced by Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, and pianist Don Pullen, who was influenced by Cecil Taylor. This group drew heavily from blues music and well as the avant garde. Other important musicians during the 1970’s and 1980’s include pianists Abdullah Ibrahim, Paul Bley, Anthony Davis and Keith Jarrett.

Not all developments in jazz occur in the United States. Many European musicians extended some of the free jazz ideas of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor, and further dispensed with traditional forms. Others turned toward a more introspective music. Some of the more successful of the European improvisers include saxophonists Evan Parker, John Tchicai, John Surman, and Jan Garbarek, trumpet players Kenny Wheeler and Ian Carr, pianist John Taylor, guitarists Derek Bailey and Allan Holdsworth, bassist Eberhard Weber, drummer John Stevens, and arrangers Mike Westbrook, Franz Koglman, and Willem Breuker.