Sp8. Jazz and Freedom
Jazz and Freedom
Is jazz the music of freedom?
When asked whether he agrees that jazz is a music of freedom by jazz researcher and interviewer brad williams, fred smith replies with trenchant criticisms of the question. He raises several difficulties for this line of thought, namely that the concept of freedom being appealed to is too vague. Regardless of how own defines it, Smith believes that there is no music that can be totally free. Freedom for Smith better relates not to the music be made but rather should be attributed to the musicians making the music. When comparing the freedom of musicians Smith finds that rock musician Jimi Hendrix and jazz musician Ornette Coleman or Charlie Parker were equally free as musicians relative to each other. Freedom formusicians, or lack of it, depends upon how different aspects of music have become institutionalized and now is being used through repetition and practice as less free than it was before precisely because these aspects have become standard practices and have been done before. Ultimately, Smith concludes that the entire original question is naive and too simplistic in its seeking simpler yes or no answers to whether jazz is a music of freedom. Smith makes all of these points quickly and on the spur of the moment reactions during his interview:
“Many musicians and enthusiasts talk of jazz as a music ofAny music can be the music of freedom. No music has inherent freedom within it. Sure it may have chordally or non chordally for that matter, but that isn’t where true freedom lies. It lies in the head of the musician. I didn’t think Jimmie Hendrix was any less free than Ornette in his playing, and Charlie Parker was free as a bird. It’s when the freedoms of a musician become institutionalised and learnt as a language that there becomes less freedom for the individual learning it and playing it by rote, because it’s been done before. You have to find your own voice, and there would lie your freedoms as well as some restrictions of course. I played with Sonny Boy Williamson in a blues context. He was as free as anyone else I’ve played with. So no style of music can claim that. It’s too naive a thought.
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