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  • Beyond Jazz - Free Improvisation

    By HC News |

    Author: Trevor Barre

    Publisher: Compass

    ISBN:  9781907308840

    Format: Paperback

    338 pages

    Published: May 2016


    How did Free Improvisation, aka Free Music emerge? And how has this most arcane of musical forms survived so long and gained such loyal adherents? Trevor Barre seeks to answer these questions in Beyond Jazz, the first book solely devoted to the so-called "First Generation" of Free improvisers.

    Beyond Jazz is an account of the genre’s formative London years. It retraces the road that led from the music’s emergence in late 1965/early 1966, through to its consolidation and acceptance as a serious ongoing musical form by 1972. 

    Barre covers the principal individual innovators – Derek Bailey and Evan Parker, Eddie Prevost, Tony Oxley, Paul Lytton, Howard Riley, Keith Rowe, John Stevens, Paul Rutherford, Trevor Watts  – and groups – The Spontaneous Music Ensemble (SME), AMM, Tony Oxley’s Groups, Iskra 1903, Music Improvisation Company, Howard Riley Trio – focusing on their contemporary recordings, the venues they played and the record labels they recorded for.




    He delineates the music’s origins, contemporaneous English culture and happenings, related musical forms, and of course, what the music actually sounds like. Beyond Jazz is illustrated with a Free Music family tree, as well as photographs and album covers from the period.




    The author challenges the notion that the music should be approached only with a rarefied and humourless attitude – the book is non-academic and accessible, a style reflected in the sub-title, “Plink, Plonk & Scratch”, an onomatopoeia that’s also the name of an SME recording. The music, however austere it may appear, usually has a refreshing ability to not take itself too seriously, a stance the book mirrors.




    As well as encouraging those new to the genre to listen without prejudice, the book will prompt veteran listeners to reinvestigate its roots, dig out old recordings and venture out to appreciate the music live – the best way, in Barre’s view – to appreciate its joys and challenges.


    About the author

    Trevor Barre has been a fan of the music since the early ’70s. Since retiring as a mental health practitioner, he has found the time to translate his enthusiasms into the written word. Many moons ago, he managed a record shop, which aided his burgeoning vinyl dependence. He has lived in London for 32 years, usually within striking distance of improvised music venues, is married, and has three children.

    "A succinct, personal, opinioned and ultimately insightful volume about the so-called First Generation of British Free Musicians." – JazzWord


    "A highly readable appraisal of that most English of musical revolutions.” – Jazzwise


    "An honest, unpretentious book that makes the reader think and listen or relisten to the masterworks it discusses." – The Wire 


    "It is entirely fantastic. Very enjoyable and genuinely informed. I look forward to spreading the word."  – Thurston Moore (Ex-member and co-founder of Sonic Youth, improvising musician)


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