Jazz 100
Avant-Garde
The Best Jazz Ever Released Digitally


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Karma
Pharoah Sanders
1969 [Impulse!]


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In the late-60s tenor saxophonist Sanders was the spiritual heir-apparent to the late John Coltrane. A rarity for the avant-garde, this album was actually a commercial hit - with the 30-minute plus 'The Creator Has a Master Plan' scoring plenty of FM air time. Despite all the screaming and yodelling, a surprisingly listenable record.





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Atlantis
Sun Ra (& His Astro Infinity Arkestra)
1969 [Saturn/Evidence]


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Sun Ra's extraterrestrial origins are evident throughout this timeless - if somewhat eccentric - masterpiece. Despite the eccentricities, his reissues on the small Evidence label are attracting a lot of attention. The spacey sounds here are provided courtesy of a Hohner clavinet electric keyboard and an adventurous brass/woodwind section.





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Liberation Music Orchestra
Charlie Haden
1969 [Impulse!]


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It was 1969 and bassist Charlie Haden decided to speak out about Vietnam by making an album about, of all things, the Spanish Civil War. The lineup of avant-garde luminaries he assembled includes Gato Barbieri, Carla Bley, Don Cherry and Dewey Redman. Guitarist Sam Brown shines on the 21-minute centrepiece track.





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Les Stances a Sophie
Art Ensemble of Chicago
1970 [Pathé Marconi]


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Allmusic reviewer Brian Olewnick notes, "…one of the landmark records of the burgeoning avant-garde of the time and, simply put, one of the greatest jazz albums ever." Recorded in Paris as the soundtrack for a French film directed by Moshé Mizrahi, the album is somewhat difficult to find on CD despite its lofty status. Well worth the hunt.





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Comme a la radio
Brigitte Fontaine
1970 [Saravah]


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French avant-garde songstress Brigitte Fontaine teams up with the Art Ensemble of Chicago and her songwriting partner Areski to make one of the strangest jazz albums ever released. For the most part the backing plays it relatively straight, offering a provocatively ethereal backdrop to Fontaine's musings - all, of course, sung in French.





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Black Unity
Pharoah Sanders
1972 [Impulse!]


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Free-jazz icon Pharoah Sanders shows distinct signs of maturation as he tones down the dissonance, and explores and unifies a range of disparate musical influences. The album consists of a single 37-minute excursion described by music critic Joe S Harrington as, "…an exercise in sustained harmonic groove that cannot be beaten."





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Conference Of the Birds
Dave Holland Quartet
1972 [ECM]


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Apart from Holland's amazing bass playing - this early ECM classic features some fine work from reed players Anthony Braxton and Sam Rivers. While the music here is undeniably free, it is not directionless. Holland is a disciplined and inventive composer and Conference is his defining statement. Not typical of the later ECM sound.





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Pakistani Pomade
Alexander von Schlippenbach
1973 [FMP]


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A landmark of the European avant-garde, this record sounds like a soundtrack for one of those tripped-out Italian arthouse films 'popular' at the time it was made. For some this makes it something akin to a nightmare. Others, however, see it as a work of creative genius from a pianist who was not afraid to dare. Either way, it's pretty 'out there'.


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