Freeform Explorations: Spiritual Jazz selections with Carmen Villain

10 Minute Read

Guiding us through her musical explorations – Carmen Villain reflects on the development of her taste in freeform and spiritual Jazz.

Carmen Hillestad is perhaps one of the most interesting musicians to emerge over the past decade. Since 2012 she has released a steady stream of music on Smalltown Supersound, a record label upon which she has built a foundation and made her home having used it as a platform to develop her own sense of space and sound.

She has released numerous albums and EP’s via the label, each different from the last and channeling an evolutionary experience be that in respect of sound design or personality. Sometimes the music is haunting, other times its ethereal and uplifting. However, one thing that’s for certain is that it’s always interesting and always tasteful.


Her latest album was released earlier this year and was titled “Only Love From Now On” – a rather beautiful and romantic title for a collection of music which draws influence from the experimental fringes of Jazz and Avant Garde. As a body of music it was certainly her most accomplished and well rounded to date.

Following the release of this record we asked Carmen to reflect on the music which might have guided her toward such a trajectory, she picks tracks and pieces by the likes of Don Cherry, Jon Hassell, Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane and more.

James Newton – Arkansas Suite

A recent discovery. I love these rolling flutes, so beautiful and transportive.

  • James Newton – Arkansas Suite

    A recent discovery. I love these rolling flutes, so beautiful and transportive.

  • Alice Coltrane – Journey in Satchidananda

    This is one of the most amazing records ever, the master queen of spiritual jazz. I never grow tired of this album.

  • Claude Delcloo and Arthur Jones - Africanasia, Pt. 1

    I first discovered this one on the BYG Jazzactuel compilation, and was immediately drawn to the balance of groove and rhythm with that playful flute earworm, which then rolls into freedom jams and then back again… so damn good.

  • Pharaoh Sanders – Ocean Song

    This is just so damn beautiful and epic. It’s balm for the soul.

  • Don Cherry – Utopia and Visions

    Master king of cosmic jazz. One can really feel the community among the musicians playing here.

  • Jeanne Lee – Yeh Come t’be

    Wonderful vocal spiritual acapella.

  • Pharaoh Sanders – The Creator Has a Master Plan

    One of my favourite records of all time. It always puts me in a good mood.

  • Archie Schepp – Blasé

    “You shot your sperm into me, but you never set me free”

  • Joe McPhee, Paal Nilssen-Love – Body Sound

    I saw Joe and Paal play live in St Edmunds Church in Oslo a few years ago, and it was one of the most beautiful shows I’ve seen. A wonderful pairing of two of the best jazz musicians around.

  • Joseph Jarman, Anthony Braxton – Together Alone

    So soothing and poetic. Beautiful communication between two great players.

  • Jon Hassell – Caracas Night September 11, 1975

    Jon Hassell, always. Listening to this feels like it brings you to the time and place it was recorded.