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Album Review

Recorded a little over a month after his groundbreaking work Free Jazz, this album found Coleman perhaps retrenching from that idea conceptually, but nonetheless plumbing his quartet music to ever greater heights of richness and creativity. Ornette! was the first time bassist Scott LaFaro recorded with Coleman, and the difference in approach between LaFaro and Charlie Haden is apparent from the opening notes of "W.R.U." There is a more direct propulsion and limberness to his playing, and he can be heard driving Coleman and Don Cherry actively and more aggressively than Haden's warm, languid phrasing. The cuts, with titles derived from the works of Sigmund Freud, are all gems and serve as wonderful launching pads for the musicians' improvisations. By this time, Coleman was very comfortable in extended pieces, and he and his partners have no trouble filling in the time, never coming close to running out of ideas. Special mention should be made of Ed Blackwell, with one of his finest performances. Ornette! is a superb release and a must for all fans of Coleman and creative improvised music in general. [Ornette! was reissued in 2004 with "Proof Readers" added as a bonus track.]


Born: 09 March 1930 in Fort Worth, TX

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of the most important (and controversial) innovators of the jazz avant-garde, Ornette Coleman gained both loyal followers and lifelong detractors when he seemed to burst on the scene in 1959 fully formed. Although he, and Don Cherry in his original quartet, played opening and closing melodies together, their solos dispensed altogether with chordal improvisation and harmony, instead playing quite freely off of the mood of the theme. Coleman's tone (which purposely wavered in pitch) rattled some...
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