The Free Spirits

Biography by

The beginning of jazz-rock is commonly dated in the late '60s with the emergence of Blood, Sweat, & Tears, the Electric Flag, and Miles Davis' Bitches Brew, but in fact a few sporadic efforts were…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

The beginning of jazz-rock is commonly dated in the late '60s with the emergence of Blood, Sweat, & Tears, the Electric Flag, and Miles Davis' Bitches Brew, but in fact a few sporadic efforts were made at reconciling the two forms before that. The Free Spirits, a New York group featuring the guitar, songwriting, and singing of Larry Coryell, may have been the first. Augmenting the usual guitar-bass-drums rock lineup with the tenor saxophone of Jim Pepper, the quintet's backgrounds were decidedly jazz. But their sound was considerably closer to rock, investing the early psychedelic sounds of the day with relatively adventurous, jazz-derived improvisation, horns (or one, anyway), and elastic song structures. They weren't avant-garde by any means; on their LP, their innovations were tailored to fit songs with vocals lasting between two and three-and-a-half minutes. Their moderate use of jazz idioms within pop and rock frameworks was innovative for its day and has always been unfairly overlooked.