Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ornette Coleman: The Shape of Jazz to Come

They say it's one of the best jazz records ever, but I really hadn't paid much attention over the years. Probably that's due to two things - it being labelled free, or avant-garde jazz, and the lack of a pianist in the ensemble. I dunno, I just like to hear chords and have the warmth of a piano supporting the music.

But, there comes a time when we let go a little and pick up those historical legends to find new discoveries. That's what I finally did, when Tower Record stores were all closing down and it was possible to get tons of stuff on the cheap.

It's a fun, enjoyable recording (even though now as I listen to it I think I probably won't pull it out all that much - maybe while cleaning or distracted with other things). A little bit wild and abstract like modern art, and some of it did remind me of madmen or drunks howling together in the streets... but not in an offensive way, if that makes sense.

Six songs, seemingly structured more than I had assumed, and they move along nicely as the bass keeps walking and the horns keep singing, unrestrained and free. Near the end of the album, it does begin to feel as if it's repeating itself, but at least it's not a mess, which is why I appreciate it more than I thought I would. Sometimes it just takes time.

Atlantic records, 1959. Coleman (alto sax), Don Cherry (cornet), Charlie Haden (bass), Billy Higgins (drums).