Music

The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists  

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1.2k votes 166 voters 14.7k views 154 items

Free jazz artists list, with photos, ranked best to worst by votes. List of good free jazz bands includes a filter so you can sort by the groups’s label and what albums they've put out. This list of the top free jazz bands in the world includes all musicians who have released recordings that have gotten distribution, and is an up-to-date list. Free jazz groups and artists are shown below along with any additional genres in which their music belongs. If available, you can also see information about where all free jazz bands on this list got started. These are truly the greatest free jazz bands of all time, since the most famous free jazz artists ever are listed, and the order is decided by actual fans of the best free jazz music.

You can click on the free jazz band names to see more information about that particular notable free jazz group. If they're near the top of the best free jazz artist list, though, then they should have at least some information available. All the top free jazz bands named on the list also have discographies on their pages if you click on the free jazz band names themselves.

The list you're viewing is made up of many different artists, including Carlos Santana and The Mars Volta. Rank the best artists on the list to see them get to the top. Are you one of those people that doesn't like Medeski Martin & Wood or Björk? Then vote those things down to have your voice heard.

All important, significant and iconic names in free jazz music history deserve your votes, so make sure to choose wisely. You can only vote once on this list.

The list includes all new free jazz bands, and if there are any missing on the list, you can always add them yourself. Just make sure they aren't already on the list and check your spelling, because this is already an accurate compilation of the best examples of free jazz, as well as a good place to start if you're asking yourself, or friends, exactly how to get into free jazz music. Especially since the bands at the top of the list will at the very least be the best choices if you're looking for a list of good free jazz bands with which to start out. No point in listening to them if they aren't actually good or even half-way decent free jazz bands.

This list answers the questions "who are the best free jazz bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest free jazz musician ever?"

If you know enough about the genre, please vote based on the quality of the band's music instead of just voting for the most popular free jazz bands that you might've heard of, but not really listened to closely enough to cast an informed vote.

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list ordered by
1
John Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Hard bop, Post-bop
2
Ornette Coleman is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Jazz fusion, Free funk
3
Eric Dolphy is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Zaliste added Avant-garde jazz, Third stream, Post-bop
4
Albert Ayler is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Rhythm and blues, Jazz
5
Anthony Braxton is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz
6
Pharoah Sanders is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Kozmigroov, Avant-garde jazz, World fusion music
7
Sun Ra is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Doo-wop, Kozmigroov, Avant-garde jazz
8
Cecil Taylor is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
slaft added Avant-garde jazz, Jazz, Free jazz
9
Tim Berne is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
slaft added Avant-garde jazz
10
Don Cherry is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Kozmigroov, World fusion music, World music
11
Charles Mingus is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
slaft added Orchestral jazz, Avant-garde jazz, Third stream
12
Archie Shepp is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
slaft added Jazz
13
Ed Blackwell is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
slaft added Jazz
14
Frank Wright is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Andujar added
15
Henry Kaiser is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
slaft added Rock music, Jazz, Free improvisation
16
Joe Maneri is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
slaft added
17
John Tchicai is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
slaft added
18
Lennie Tristano is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
slaft added Avant-garde jazz, Cool jazz, Post-bop
19
Malachi Favors is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
slaft added
20
Don Moye is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
slaft added Jazz
21
Raphe Malik is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Andujar added
22
Frank Lowe is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Free jazz
23
Peter Brötzmann is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Jazz, Free jazz
24
Sam Rivers is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Jazz, Free jazz
25
Art Ensemble of Chicago is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Andujar added Jazz