Archive for the Ornette COLEMAN Category

Ornette COLEMAN – Love Call 1968

Posted in JAZZ, Ornette COLEMAN on December 10, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Ornette COLEMAN – Love Call 1968
2000 Issue.


“Love Call” comes from the same 1968 Blue Note sessions that brought us “New York Is Now.” Dewey Redman’s smoky, blurry tenor plays off of Ornette’s incisive alto; and Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones (Coltrane’s rhythm unit of choice) supply the bass and drums for this piano-less quartet.

The tunes are unique, of course–bizarrely catchy, childlike, and strangely harmonized. They all convey an eerie optimism. The compositions follow the tried and true bebop format of head (statement of melody), solos, head. But unlike bebop, the harmonic underpinning is removed, leaving the musicians free to concentrate on melodies and shifting grooves.

Ornette is a master of digression. It sounds like his own melodic fragments are pulling him all over the place. But he and his colleagues are so steeped in the tradition that the grooves never falter. In “Airborne,” the band plays two or three tempi at once, but the overall effect is unified. Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrison and Ornette are magical together, and when Dewey Redman comes in, getting air and dirt out of his horn, the sound seems to widen exponentially. His solo is a smudgy masterpiece of implication, and Jones and Garrison follow him every step of the way, hearing the notes through the noise.
The other half of the New York Is Now session, which is, in a sense, ridiculous. Blue Note issued two records when they really had one. There were two dates, April 29 and May 7, 1968. Half the tunes from this volume and half from New York Is Now were recorded at each session. The CD versions contain all of the alternate takes and unreleased cuts of both days. Here, Coleman with Dewey Redman and the rhythm section of Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison work through Coleman’s melodic conceptions and harmonic constructs on five numbers, with alternate takes making up two more. Coleman plays alto on four tunes and trumpet on three — better than violin. “Airborne” is the most successful thing here in that Coleman’s music matches the rhythm section’s energy for the only time on the session. Redman’s tenor solo is one of the most bleating and emotionally intense of his career, careening across microphonics as he flats fifths and screeches through a series of arpeggios that cause Coleman to begin his solo at 60 mph at the very top of a scale and cruise through six or seven melodic variations on its theme before bringing it back down. Meanwhile, Elvin barely breaks a sweat and Garrison creates such a taut harmonic template for Coleman and Redman, they have to stretch. The title track is perhaps Coleman’s finest moment on the trumpet; he spatters his notes in such a way that across the B-flat diminished nine scalar invention, he picks up all the tonal qualities in the color palette and chromatically orders them in such a way that it sets up Redman with a prime opportunity to alter the melody of the tune one note at a time. Also, the bluesy theme in “Check out Time,” with its echoes of Thelonious Monk’s “Blue Monk,” is a nice touch, but it should have opened or closed the album.
By Thom Jurek, All Music Guide.
I believe the main lesson being taught by Ornette to the world has nothing to do with his “Harmolodic approach”. The thing we learn from Coleman is to be ourselves. Here he uses Coltrane’s rhythm section, but does not even remotely sound like anything but himself – starting a tune with a short riff, in unison with the tenor of Dewey Redman, then diving into an extended improvisation – playing with few limitations but with pefect control.
The two versions of “Check out time” are an example to Coleman’s truly free approach. The opening riff is basically identical, but where on the first version Coleman enters with bursting energy, on the second version the opening is followed by a Redman’s long notes over a slowing rhythm. This gives the rest of the piece a whole different feel.
On the Love Call versions Ornette plays trumpet and violin. While I prefer his alto playing, it is good to hear him explore the different sounds and possibilities.
That’s Ornette. His mind is always working, unbound by anything other than his own musical sensibilities. He knows his African American tradition – but is not limited by it or any other tradition. It is not easy for a musician to stray from a tradition – it is much easier to stay in the cozy confinements of an existing style/tradition. But the strong survive – as Coleman has.
By Nadav Haber.
With his milestone recordings of the late fifties Ornette opened the gate to a whole new world which is still being explored today as it will be tomorrow. While the original quartet with its Atlantic output is rightly regarded as his most important achievement, these two albums rank among his most successful and accessible work, as uncompromising as they are.The pieces contained in here are mostly simple, riff-based fragments, a basis for improvisation. But the “Broadway Blues” on the accompanying “New York Is Now”-CD is a fine example of Ornette the tunesmith. Writing an easy melodic line is often underrated or disregarded. But Ornette has always been a composer with the very rare ability to put it brief and,even more,to fill a lot of music into his pieces. These two CDs once more lay proof to the fact that his music is, besides all other qualities, lasting,’ll never get dated. One reason is, I suppose, evident here: Ornette knows his roots and is the born leader – giving his colleagues ample space to develop their own ideas and to contribute to the music in a vital way and yet making them to play HIS music. All musicians on these albums are in fine form and play with inspiration.Dewey displays his embodied tenor tone very pleasingly, Jimmy Garrison’s bass supports and solos simultaneously and giant drummer Elvin Jones is a category of himself.I’d say that Ornette rarely played with so much power as when driven by Elvin.And despite this line-up no allusions to Trane creep up and go way into the music. Shortly after John Coltrane’s death, a rather unexpected atmosphere. If simple were easy, why are there so few successors? The album covers are quite good too!
By Dennis.
One of the two quartet sessions that Ornette cut for Blue Note in the late 60s – and tight mature work like the New York Is Now sides, recorded in the company of Dewey Redman and the Coltrane rhythm section of Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones, which offers a contrasting perspective to most of the preceding Coleman groups. Ornette plays alto and trumpet, as he was doing around that time, and Redman’s playing is amongst his finest on record. Four tunes the title track, “Airborne”, “Check Out Time”, and “Open To The Public”.
Jimmy Garrison- Bass
Ornette Coleman- Violin, Alto,Soprano Sax
Elvin Jones- Drums, Snare Drums
Dewey Redman- Tenor Sax
01. Airborne 10:30
02. Check Out Time 8:22
03. Check Out Time (Alternate) 7:57
04. Open To The Public 8:05
05. Love Call 8:45
06. Love Call (Alternate) 5:31
07. Just For You 4:13

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Ornette COLEMAN Quartet – Ornette 1961

Posted in JAZZ, Ornette COLEMAN on November 25, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Ornette COLEMAN Quartet – Ornette 1961
2004 Issue.


Ornette Coleman was definitely on a winning streak during his prolific time with Atlantic Records from 1959-1962. His fifth album for the label, simply titled “Ornette!”, continued his explorations into the outer realms of free improvisation and tight musical interplay. Most importantly, the “Ornette!” album was recorded shortly after the monumental and groundbreaking “Free Jazz” session from December 1960.
Joining Coleman on this album is his long-time sideman and trumpeter Don Cherry along with a new rhythm section of drummer Ed Blackwell (who replaced Billy Higgins) and Scott LaFaro (who took over for Charlie Haden). Although this album is somewhat overshadowed by the more successful “Shape Of Jazz To Come” as well as the aforementioned “Free Jazz”, “Ornette!” is still a solid effort that is just as exciting and strong as its predecessors.
Standouts include the mammoth 16-minute “W.R.U.”, Ed Blackwell’s drum feature “T&T”, LaFaro’s eeire bowed bass solo in “C&D” and Coleman’s extended alto workout on “R.P.D.D.” The newly reissued CD also features an excellent bonus track, “Proof Readers” which was recorded during the same sessions as this album.
The remastering on this CD presents the album in stunning sound quality and sounds as if your standing in the room with the musicians as they are playing the music.
Additionally, the CD booklet includes the original LP liner notes from Gunther Schuller as well as new notes from noted Jazz critic Nat Hentoff.
With that said, “Ornette!” is another fine album in Ornette Coleman’s varied catalog. There’s great playing and awesome improvisation here and is full of energy and excitement.

Footnote: The complete music from the January 1961 session that this album was taken from can be heard on the boxed set “Beauty Is A Rare Thing: The Complete Atlantic Recordings”, a full 74 minutes of music recorded at this one session.
By  Louie Bourland.
Recorded a month and ten days after his landmark “Free Jazz”, Ornette Coleman’s “Ornette!” finds the leader on fire– coming off such a huge acheivement, his working quartet (now consisting of trumpeter Don Cherry, bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Ed Blackwell) entered the studio to record four new compositions. Remarkably, this album seems to be a big step forward in performance from his earlier records. At a minimum, Don Cherry, who always seemed a bit fragile, is suddenly much more powerful and confident as a performer– it could be a tour he conducted the summer before in Europe, or his first recording session as a (co) leader (the as-of-then unreleased “The Avant-Garde” with John Coltrane), or soemthing else, but Cherry playing is brilliant throughout, matching Coleman’s. Likewise, Ed Blackwell seems fully integrated in the quartet and his signature sound, slightly absent on “This is Our Music” (his first recording with Coleman) and “Free Jazz”, is fully present– the New Orleans marching band feel he brings to the best of his work is prevelent throughout. Look no further than “T. & T.”, a drum feature where Blackwell plays a marching beat and an amazingly patient and subtle solo to see a good example of his stellar perforamnce. And certainly, Coleman, for someone so pioneering and on the edge, plays with extraordinary confidence and skill. But the last piece of the puzzle is Scott LaFaro.

No slight against Charlie Haden, he’s a fantastic bass player and perhaps more inventive than LaFaro, but LaFaro was a virtuoso performer of extraordinary ability, endurance, speed, and strength. His work throughout is nothing short of amazing, be it arco (his beautiful solo on “C. & D.”) or pizzicato (the jaw-dropping one on “W.R.U.”– agile and exciting and really beyond words).

Also of note, and different from Coleman’s earlier records– all the cuts barring drum feature “T. & T.” (where no one but Blackwell solos) are extended and really give lots of room for the players to stretch and cut loose. As a result, solos by all four are well developed and overflowing with ideas.

The bonus track on this album, “Proof Readers”, recorded at the same session, was likely left off because of length of record, not because of merit. The piece is notable certainly for featuring among the best interaction between Coleman and Blackwell– the two play with a near psychic level of interaction, Coleman twists and turns during his extended solo and Blackwell (and for that matter LaFaro) are right there offering encouragement. In many ways, its quite unfortunate it didn’t end up on the album.

With LaFaro’s death later in 1961, this was not an effort that would ever be repeated, but certainly its a record deserving attention. Those new to Coleman’s work should look to “The Shape of Jazz to Come” first, but “Ornette!”, finally in print after being out for quite a while, is a worthy second place to look. Highly recommended.
By Michael Stack.
Originally issued in 1961 on Atlantic Records, ORNETTE! (recorded shortly after the revolutionary FREE JAZZ album) finds Ornette Coleman and company at the peak of their powers. Trumpeter Don Cherry and drummer Ed Blackwell are on board–both would continue playing with Coleman off and on for decades to come–but the wild card here is the legendary bassist Scott LaFaro, who earned his reputation with the equally innovative (albeit quieter) Bill Evans Trio, here taking the place of Coleman’s then-regular bassist Charlie Haden. LaFaro’s style is more hard-driving (in the traditional, hard-bop sense) than Haden’s warm, buoyant approach, inspiring the soloists to feverish heights. Though considered very “avant-garde” at the time, Coleman’s solos crackle with the essence of the blues, while Cherry plays with a brassy, rippling tone, and Blackwell’s crisp, propulsive drumming is rich with rhythmic echoes of New Orleans and the Caribbean. Vibrant and immediate, ORNETTE! is a classic in Coleman’s voluminous recorded history.
Recorded at Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, New York on January 31, 1961. Originally released on Atlantic.
Ornette Coleman- (Alto Sax);
Don Cherry- (Pocket Trumpet);
Scott LaFaro- (Bass);
Ed Blackwell- (Drums).
01. W.R.U.  16:25
02. T & T  4:35
03. C. & D.  13:10
04. R.P.D.D.  9:38
05. Proof Readers #  10:25

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Ornette COLEMAN – Change of the Century 1959

Posted in JAZZ, Ornette COLEMAN on November 17, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Ornette COLEMAN – Change of the Century  1959
1992 Issue.


The second album by Ornette Coleman’s legendary quartet featuring Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, and Billy Higgins, Change of the Century is every bit the equal of the monumental The Shape of Jazz to Come, showcasing a group that was growing ever more confident in its revolutionary approach and the chemistry in the bandmembers’ interplay. When Coleman concentrates on melody, his main themes are catchier, and when the pieces emphasize group interaction, the improvisation is freer. Two of Coleman’s most memorable classic compositions are here in their original forms “Ramblin'” has all the swing and swagger of the blues, and “Una Muy Bonita” is oddly disjointed, its theme stopping and starting in totally unexpected places; both secure their themes to stable, pedal-point bass figures. The more outside group improv pieces are frequently just as fascinating; “Free,” for example, features a double-tongued line that races up and down in free time before giving way to the ensemble’s totally spontaneous inventions. The title cut is a frantic, way-out mélange of cascading lines that nearly trip over themselves, brief stabs of notes in the lead voices, and jarringly angular intervals it must have infuriated purists who couldn’t even stomach Coleman’s catchiest tunes. Coleman was frequently disparaged for not displaying the same mastery of instrumental technique and harmonic vocabulary as his predecessors, but his aesthetic prized feeling and expression above all that anyway. Maybe that’s why Change of the Century bursts with such tremendous urgency and exuberance  Coleman was hitting his stride and finally letting out all the ideas and emotions that had previously been constrained by tradition. That vitality makes it an absolutely essential purchase and, like The Shape of Jazz to Come, some of the most brilliant work of Coleman’s career.
By Steve Huey.
CHANGE OF THE CENTURY is a hell of an album. It was recorded in 1959, but sounds as fresh and interesting today as it did then. Ornette Coleman’s great quartet, with Billy Higgins, Charlie Haden and Don Cherry, are at the height of their powers.
In the original liner notes Ornette says, “I don’t tell the members of my group what to do. I want them to play what they hear in the piece for themselves.” What they hear in the pieces is sometimes astounding.
On “Ramblin’,” a blues of sorts, after solos by Coleman and Cherry, the listener is expecting a drum solo. Instead, Billy Higgins taps out a simple swing rhythm on what sounds like his cymbal stand. Charlie Haden then digs into some deep, deep blues that carry echoes of Appalachian music, rockabilly, and who knows what else. It’s unearthly.
The absence of a piano allows the listener to hear every bass note, every drum fill, and they’re all worth hearing. In “Free,” Don Cherry’s pocket trumpet outlines wild shapes and ideas. And in “Face of the Bass,” Ornette’s plastic alto sax solo bypasses the mind and becomes a visceral experience. The music is truly fresh.
Change of the Century, Ornette’s 4th album is a work of stunning brilliance. Any doubts that because it is sandwiched between the definitive classic The Shape Of Jazz To Come & the revolutionary Free Jazz that it would be somewhat lesser can be thrown right out. This is a great a jazz album as any ever made & amongst the greatest of any music, seriously all the labels, genre-specificness & niche marketing should be thrown right out, like OC fan Captain Beefheart meant when he said “Lick my decals off, baby!”, I’m sure Ornette would agree. 1st of all there is the striking stark portrait of the man himself by Lee Friedlander to get yr attention, I’ve seen a book full of her photography & it’s good stuff [note the similar style on Miles Davis’ Greatest Hits lp cover of the late 60s]. Then there are the liner notes explaining the philosophy driving the music, Ornette believes deeply in what his group were doing [I should now mention that drummer Billy Higgins recently died & a sad shame it is, also the great Don Cherry has been gone since 1995], the bold titles of the albums were not an exercise to build an ego but just great confidence in the power of the music. Now, Ramblin’ which opens the album is something that should be listened to every day to wake you up & get you in the mood for lifeliving, very catchy & great playing from all members, pure genius. Free is the name of the next track & it’s worth noting this is preceding the term ‘free jazz’ slightly, the intro of it really superb, a streaming sea of sound & then of course there is a lot of free group improvisation. The Face Of The Bass highlights the talents of Charlie Haden [& rightly so!], daring to give him an extended solo before the whole band jumps in again. Una Muy Bonita is an overwhelmingly joyous tune but never embarrassingly so, another classic. The only tune to not grab you immediately & predict the more out there abrasiveness of the free jazz scene is the title track which closes the lp, it is also the shortest track here. The other songs are top notch too of course, particularly Forerunner. Like Ornette says in the liner notes, music can’t be analysed too much or it loses what makes it great in the 1st place, so all I can say is it’s something I highly recommend & yr ears will thank you for it. P.S. [3 months after initial write-up]: THIS IS THE PINNACLE, IT DOES NOT GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS!! An absolute classic that can be played every day & is always compelling. That’s not to say there’s not a whole lot more worth checking out, the electric Body Meta & semi-orchestral Chappaqua Suite are brilliant too. Start here though.
By Funkmeister.
Says Ornette in the liner notes: “I say, there is no single way to play jazz. Some of the comments made about my music make me realize though that modern jazz, once so daring and revolutionary, has become, in many respects, a rather settled and conventional thing.” Just as bop had befuddled and angered critics to ask such narrow minded questions as, “where is the melody?”, the music of Ornette Coleman confused and angered the majority of critics. But the muscicians were listening. Even Coleman’s seminal “Free Jazz” sounds relatively tame when compared to the avante garde of the middle to late 60’s, but it can be argued much of that music, good and bad, could never have come about without the adavnces of Ornette Coleman. A genius on par with names like: Ellington, Coltrane, Parker, jazz is still wrestling with his revolution. His lack of traditional structures, total absence of chorded instruments (i.e. piano, guitar), and even playing his plastic alto were all part of his revolution. But lets focus on what matters, this album is a delight from beginning to end. Ornette is in top form thoughout, check out his furious solo on “Forerunner”. Bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Billy Higgins move with fluidity and cohesiveness through out. Donald Cherry on the pocket trumpet, while not impressive to me, is essential to the group for his willingness to take chances. To these ears this music swings as hard as any, and needs to be in any serious collection of jazz recordings, not because it is revoloutionary, but because it is good!
By Jazzfanmn.
Ornette Coleman- (Alto Sax);
Don Cherry- (Pocket Trumpet);
Charlie Haden- (Bass);
Billy Higgins- (Drums).
01. Ramblin’ 6:39
02. Free 6:24
03. The Face of the Bass 6:59
04. Forerunner 5:16
05. Bird Food 5:31
06. Una Muy Bonita 6:02
07. Change of the Century 4:41

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