Avant-garde Jazz

(also called Avant-jazz)

Avant-garde jazz is a style of music and improvisation that combines avant-garde art music and composition with jazz. It originated in the mid- to late 1950s among a group of improvisors who rejected the conventions of bebop and post bop in an effort to blur the division between the written and the spontaneous. It came to be applied to music differing from free jazz, emphasizing structure and organization by the use of composed melodies, shifting but nevertheless predetermined meters and tonalities, and distinctions between soloists and accompaniment. Musicians identified with this early stage of the style include Cecil Taylor, Lennie Tristano, Jimmy Giuffre, Sun Ra, and Ornette Coleman.

Originally synonymous with free jazz, much avant-garde jazz was distinct from that style.

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