02 March 2011
Revolution, Free Jazz & FMP
I have been listening to some releases by Peter Brotzmann and the record label that he has been most associated with - FMP, or Free Music Production. Be it free jazz, fire music or ecstatic music, the descriptors are not able to convey the history, the energy and the context behind the entire canon of albums, artistes and record labels which first started in the late 1950s with the release of iconoclastic albums by Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor and later on Albert Ayler, John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders. The close link between these artistes and albums with the Black civil rights movement has been documented many times across dozens of publications throughout the years. BUT the parallel movement which sprang in the 1960s in Europe, inspired by these great Black artists across the Atlantic, has been a lesser known proponent, even though the Europeans were pushing the envelope of the genre as well as putting into practice the radical politics in the way they operate and run their activities, gigs and record labels. They were DIY, staunchly ideologically-driven and passionate about their music and the socio-political context/rationale behind the sounds they were creating.
The pockets of such Hakim Bey coined TAZ or even PAZ (hopefully, permanent autonomous zones) , I hope, are role models and should be beacons for us to follow today: the CDs in the retrospective set of FMP (FMP In Retrospect) are powerhouses of musical free playing and collective music making, demonstrating to us that even before the rise of punk which supposedly flushed out the bloated corporate major label run music industry, alternative ways of doing stuff by the musicians and artistes themselves were already well in place (besides FMP, Incus and the various labels formed by the Dutch jazz scene are just some of the many examples which appeared in the 1960s and 1970s; today we have Eremite, Ayler, Okkadisk and many more).
In the increasingly bland and hegemonic cultural and social giant corporate-run world of today, such independent and collective endeavours should serve as signposts for the current and future generations of thinking youths to emulate and to carry the torch forward in their own ways.