One Step Beyond: Sammy Stein on the development for free jazz

English: American jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman

From Something Else:

By the time Ornette Coleman opened with his quartet at the Five Spot Jazz Club, New York, shortly after recording the seminal album The Shape Of Jazz To Come (Atlantic 1959), the gig which is often cited as introducing U.S. audiences to free jazz, America had been prepared. Coleman was the alchemist who managed to bring together elements which had been around for some time, place them in the right place with the right musicians and light the touch paper. He was the front man of a burgeoning movement. Many jazz players in the mid-to-late 1950s were already pushing the boundaries of performing set patterns, rhythms and tonal scales — in other words, tunes — and had already begun to explore the limits of their instruments’ abilities.