Cool jazz, free jazz and evolving jazz conventions

18 January 2019 Latest Most Popular Music

By Zuko Komisa

The late 1940s came with a changing tide that gave birth to an original style of jazz music called cool jazz, a sound which was a reaction to the then popular and funky fast paced bepop movement. This was done using slower, relaxed and softer sounds.

Pioneers of Cool Jazz

Lester Young:


He had a very distinct cool jazz sound that made him a victim of critics at the time. Making him one of the most influential cool jazz musicians in his generation. It came as a surprise that his sound was so impactful that in the 1950s there were scores of young saxaphonists that used him as inspiration for their own sound.


One of his most iconic albums was Jazz Giants that came out in 1956’s which is regarded today as one of the turning points in the Jazz fraternity, with a heavy cool jazz influence.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet:

David Warren Brubeck regarded as one of the pioneers of cool jazz using his classical training and unusual time signatures that set him apart to other musicians of his time. His contribution to the cool jazz movement can still be felt today. In the early 1950’s he formed a group ‘The Dave Brubeck Quartet’ which went on tour across the US and later released his solo debut album Jazz Goes to College in 1956 which saw him make his own mark away from the quartet.


Free Jazz

Was a movement that followed the cool jazz movement that became commonly known as the ‘avant-garde jazz’ and relied heavily on improvisation. The movement drew inspiration from earlier jazz styles and was heavily based on prehistoric, often reverent, with echoes of the original versions of jazz.

Early pioneers of this genre were free jazz include:

Cecil Taylor



Ornette Coleman


John Coltrane


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