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The Shape of Jazz to Come

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iTunes Review

After this revolutionary 1959 release, jazz was never the same. Its unconventional lineup eschewed chordal instruments, transmogrifying traditional harmonic concepts into a stark, stirring, and new vision of avant jazz. Coleman's forward-looking sax improvisations are bold and brilliant—as expressive as a human voice and capable of sounding unhinged ("Focus on Sanity"), bittersweet ("Lonely Woman"), or even impish ("Peace"), as the moment demands. On the cyclone-like "Eventually" and powerful "Chronology," the combo's visceral but empathetic interplay highlights the cunning behind the chaos.

Customer Reviews

The best of Ornette Coleman

As with so many great artists, the early work is the best. This is the album that changed jazz (and modern life) forever. No more endless bebop changes and blues solos; this was a statement of jazz as feeling, emotion and pure sound. In fact, the label of "jazz" is made irrelevant by this music. If you want to get some OC in your library, this is the one you MUST have.

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Ehhh, kind of ugly too often

Well, what are ya gonna do? This album and Ornette himself were truly revolutionary. Personally, I don't dig it. As technically "good' as these guys may be, their rebelliously-original ideas are incomplete and far too strange for my harmony and rhythm-based ears. They need piano or guitar or anything more to provide chordal foundation at some point. Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan had their smooth little jam "Walkin' Shoes" which likely set the tone for Ornette's vibe to come. The nice thing about Walkin Shoes is the melody AND solos imply chords and rather clearly point to harmonic directions. Coleman Hawkins' "Picasso" achieved the same effect earlier and when you hear other marvelous legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown, or even the much over-worshipped John Coltrane play solo without harmonic accompaniment, you can sense the overall harmonic context underlying their playing. When I listen to crazy soloists like Albert Ayler, Eric Dolphy, and Ornette, I don't sense any harmonic inflection and I think that's intentional. This is why these players are distasteful soloists much of the time with their wild honks, squeals, and fast lines that sound like crap. This album could have been more like "The shape of sound effects from horns to come".


Born: March 9, 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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