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[Edit: I replaced "free jazz" by "improvised music".]


Are there legendary recordings of improvised music that have been replayed note-by-note by another band – either by notating and playing the piece by sight-reading (possibly after some rehearsals) or from "perfect memory"?

I wonder if and why anyone would have found this a worthwile undertaking. And I am especially interested if one (or who) could hear the difference, tell which one was the orginal (without having known the original before), and which one was "better".

I know that there are "precisely notated transcriptions of musical excerpts from a large discography of free jazz [= improvised music] recordings", e.g. by Austrian musicologist Ekkehard Jost, but I wonder if these have ever been replayed.

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See also "Giant Steps" by John Coltrane:

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  • @PiepPiper: No, I am not asking specifically about John Coltrane but about Free Jazz in general as a specific form of "initially not notated but improvised and nevertheless highly structured music" (but I'm not very deep into free jazz and John Coltrane, especially). If you say that it's especially John Coltrane who was replicated many times, it would be a lucky incoincidence - but to make it clear: I'm interested not mainly in John Coltrane's solo parts, but in the performance of the whole band (for reasons that may be difficult to make clear). – Hans-Peter Stricker Jan 20 at 16:59
  • Wikipedia (and others) say: "Coltrane was at the forefront of free jazz." But most probably the general inequality "John Coltrane's music ≠ free jazz" holds;-) – Hans-Peter Stricker Jan 20 at 18:08
  • Or did you want to say "John Coltrane's music ⊄ free jazz", i.e. not part of free jazz? This would most probably be untrue. – Hans-Peter Stricker Jan 20 at 18:14
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    Ok, some of Coltrane's music is free, but not the examples from your question, and certainly not "Giant Steps" – PiedPiper Jan 20 at 18:17
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    You can still edit the question’s title. :) It’s not about free jazz but just improvised music. I think you were trying to ask, has anyone performed exact note-for-note transcriptions of improvised performances. To some extent that does happen, particularly now with Youtube etc. Check this youtube.com/watch?v=Zq8EL8rfvyw – piiperi Reinstate Monica Jan 21 at 18:00
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Not that I know of.

The only "note for note" recreation I've heard of is Blue by Other People Mostly Do The Killing, which is a note for note recreation of the famous Miles Davis album Kind of Blue (which is definitely not "free jazz"). From what I read in the press at the time of the publishing, I think it was the first time such thing happened in the Jazz world, but I did not read everything on that topic. However, this could be a good starting point for you, as the specialized press, esp. in the US, has musicologist which likely would have researched if this was a premiere or not.

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    Much would have been easier, if I would not have asked for "free jazz", but just for "jazz" - or more generally for "more or less improvided music", with "free jazz" a form of extremely improvised music. But as Moppa Elliott from Mostly Other People Do the Killings puts it: “the defining characteristic of jazz is improvisation”. To sum it up: your answer is the perfect answer to my question, even more if I had given it the title "Jazz by notes" - thank you very much. – Hans-Peter Stricker Jan 21 at 10:03
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    By the way: The Atlantic's article I linked to asks the very same question as I do (in the middle part of my post): "Why did this band recreate jazz's most famous record note-for-note?" – Hans-Peter Stricker Jan 21 at 10:03
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    theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/10/… has a sound clip, which I could not find at Youtube. Excellent answer! – Michael Curtis Jan 21 at 20:32
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Transcribing and performing improvised music does happen at least in the form of Youtube videos, and it's done as a tribute to the original artist, to learn musical expression and technique, to learn improvisation and maybe just to show off.

Here are some examples

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  • Fascinating! Not quite what I was looking for, but almost. – Hans-Peter Stricker Jan 22 at 12:01

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