What Is Free Jazz?

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Aug 10, 2021 • 5 min read

Free jazz stemmed from a basic principle, one that most musicians (and indeed, most artists) are familiar with: learn the rules—then break them. Like the avant-garde movement in visual arts, free jazz was an attempt to break from the traditions of jazz and create something entirely new. As jazz musicians became more comfortable with improvisation, a new sound emerged: experimental, unorthodox, and rebellious.