Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead begins a new six-part series we call Avant-Garde Made Easy, highlighting some of the important modern jazz mavericks of the so-called Avant Garde. We begin the series with pianist, composer, and band leader Sun Ra.
Rock historian Ed Ward says that the 1970s were a wasteland for rock music. But two notable, experimental bands emerged from the era. The Residents' music was bizarre and hollow sounding, while Pere Ubu sought to bring an experimental edge to rock and roll.
Don Glen Vilet is a painter who recorded experimental, blues-inflected music under under the name Captain Beefheart. Rock historian Ed Ward says that, while Beefheart was never a commercial success, his influence can be heard in everything from pop to heavy metal.