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Margriet Naber – John Tchicai: A chaos with some kind of order

John Tchicai: A chaos with some kind of order is the story of a pioneering saxophonist, composer and teacher of jazz music and improvisation, an artist who wanted his music to contribute to 'a better realization of the oneness of all beings'.

Just as Tchicai (1936-2012) married improvisation with composition in his music, so he found a balance between chaos and order in his long and inspiring life. A mixed-race kid in Denmark in the '40s and a leading saxophonist from the '60s and onwards, he co-founded the celebrated New York Art Quartet, played with Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and was invited by John Coltrane to contribute to his landmark 1965 album 'Ascension'. His playful, hands-on improvisation teaching method was new and unique. A strong sense of spirituality was his beacon. Written by a fellow artist and teacher who shared his life in America and Europe for many years, the first full-scale biography of this extraordinary musician blends the personal with the informative.

Margriet Naber creates a collage of life story, quotes, teaching methods, poems, charts, transcribed solos and many photos. To those looking for ways to allow more freedom into their lives or music, to get out of a set routine or to improvise without getting lost, this book offers valuable guidance.


Released 2021

John Tchicai

Born in Copenhagen in 1936, Tchicai moved to New York in 1963 for a three year stint that saw him join Archie Shepp's New York Contemporary Five start up the New York Art Quartet and perform on seminal free jazz recordings by John Coltrane (Ascension) and Albert Ayler (New York Eye and Ear Control). Back in Denmark he continued to perform and record including work with Cadentia Nova Danica, Instant Composers Pool, MEV, John Lennon (!), Irene Schweizer, Henry Kaiser and Wadada Leo Smith.

Tchicai passed away in 2012 at the age of 76.

"Tchicai has an acute sense of space and a tight control of harmonics, switching from rich overtone to flat cadence within a single note." Mike Hobart, The Financial Times

Guardian obituary by John Fordham