Jazz The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists  

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1k votes 137 voters 13.8k 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
57 9
John Coltrane is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Hard bop, Post-bop

2
42 7
Ornette Coleman is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Jazz fusion, Free funk

3
26 5
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
26 7
Albert Ayler is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

5
23 5
Anthony Braxton is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Opera, Jazz

6
20 3
Sun Ra is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Doo-wop, Kozmigroov, Avant-garde jazz

7
19 3
Charles Mingus is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
slaft added Orchestral jazz, Avant-garde jazz, Third stream

8
20 4
Pharoah Sanders is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Kozmigroov, Avant-garde jazz, World fusion music

9
11 1
Cecil Taylor is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
slaft added Avant-garde jazz, Jazz, Free jazz

10
19 7
Peter Brötzmann is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Jazz, Free jazz

11
13 2
Don Cherry is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Kozmigroov, World fusion music, World music

12
10 1
John Zorn is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Dark ambient, Noise rock, Klezmer

13
9 2
Sam Rivers is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Jazz, Free jazz

14
7 1
Archie Shepp is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
slaft added Jazz

15
9 3
Naked City is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Noise rock, Avant-garde jazz, Experimental rock

16
13 7
Arthur Doyle is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Free jazz

17
7 2
Prince Lasha is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Jazz, Free jazz

18
8 4
Marc Ribot is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Electronic music, Experimental music, Alternative rock

19
6 2
Evan Parker is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Jazz, Free jazz, Free improvisation

20
4 0
Art Ensemble of Chicago is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Andujar added Jazz

21
12 9
Allan Holdsworth is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Instrumental rock, Jazz fusion, Jazz

22
10 7
Anthony Coleman is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Jazz, Free jazz

23
7 4
Paul Bley is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Post-bop, Free jazz

24
5 2
Derek Bailey is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Free funk, Free jazz

25
3 0
Thelonious Monk is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
slaft added Stride, Cool jazz, Hard bop

26
3 0
Steve Lacy is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
slaft added Avant-garde jazz, Jazz, Dixieland

27
3 0
Jimmy Giuffre is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
slaft added Cool jazz, Third stream, Folk jazz

28
11 9
Armen Nalbandian is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Electronic music, Classical music, Experimental music

29
9 7
Mark Dresser is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Jazz, Free jazz

30
7 5
Zs is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
No wave, Classical music, Noise music

31
7 5
Alan Silva is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Jazz, Free jazz

32
6 4
Muhal Richard Abrams is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Post-bop, Free jazz, Modern Creative

33
6 4
Nels Cline is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Noise, Jazz fusion, Noise music

34
6 4
Michael Jefry Stevens is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Jazz, Free jazz, Free improvisation

35
4 2
AMM is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Experimental music, Free jazz, Free improvisation

36
3 1
Jimmy Lyons is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Jazz, Free jazz

37
3 1
David Murray is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Post-bop, Free jazz

38
3 1
Charlie Haden is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Folk jazz, Hard bop, Post-bop

39
3 1
Roswell Rudd is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Jazz, Free jazz

40
2 0
Joe McPhee is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Andujar added Jazz

41
2 0
Joe Maneri is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
slaft added

42
2 0
Frank Wright is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Andujar added

43
2 0
Michael Bisio is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
WriterGirl added

Avante-garde jazz, Free jazz

44
2 0
Leon Thomas is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
slaft added

45
7 6
Società Anonima Decostruzionis... is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Jazz, Avant-garde, Free jazz

46
7 6
Roman Stolyar is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Art music, Jazz, Free jazz

47
7 6
Telectu is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Musique concrète, Experimental rock, Experimental music

48
7 6
12Twelve is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Post-rock, Free jazz

49
6 5
Mary Lou Williams is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Third stream, Swing music, Hard bop

50
5 4
Pat Patrick is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Free Jazz Bands/Artists
Avant-garde jazz, Swing music, Hard bop