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Album Review

Guitarist Pat Metheny had long expressed admiration for Ornette Coleman's music, had recorded his compositions, and had worked extensively with bassist Charlie Haden, so a collaboration was not totally unexpected, though who would have guessed that it would be on the Geffen label? Metheny's almost rock star status has worked against him in other partnerships from time to time (notably, his overbearing playing on his project with Derek Bailey, The Sign of 4), but here he happily sublimates his showier instincts and works as sympathetic co-leader, deferring to Coleman's experience and genius. The music itself bears strong similarities to that of Coleman's Prime Time ensembles wherein all players solo at once, bracketed by the themes of the piece. Metheny often manages to be a quite expressive second voice, racing along beside the master saxophonist, offering alternative strategies and never showboating. The tandem percussion team of Jack DeJohnette and Coleman's son Denardo are ferocious when need be, and Charlie Haden is his standard exemplary self. Metheny fans owe it to themselves to listen to some of his most exploratory and least "pastel" playing and, in fact, the album also contains some of Coleman's best work since the mid-'70s.

Customer Reviews

Failure to appreciate.

The above reviewers, unfortunately, seem to have little appreciation of the radical potentials of jazz freed from the "band leader" model, so it makes sense this could listen as a kind of anarchic burst of high-school instrument-tuning gone wrong... On the other hand, if you aren't intimidated by the "anarchism" of experimental music-- John Zorn's Naked City, for instance-- Song X presents itself as an opportunity for a nomadic dérive through experimental musical territories. Will take you to some odd spaces.

best jazz ever

i just wanted to write something because i am enjoying this album so much. i think that some people would listen to it differently so that it seemed like chaos. but it is really the opposite and there is unity if you listen from deep inside. ornette is a master. anything he plays is everything. the drums are very good. for those who are open to it, this music is very helpful. We are fortunate to know this letter from some place we might not otherwise even know about.

Not necessarily stoned, but beautiful.

It reminds me of that line from Hendrix. Pat really has quite a varied catalog. This album, the first time I listened to it seemed like chaos, especially Endangered Species. I still can't really understand Endangered Species, but the rest of the almbum is fabulous. Different, but fabulous. And Ornette really can play beautifully, like on Kathelin Grey. If you are a true fan of the varied body of Metheny works, you have to have this album. If you are a casual listener and prefer the softer, more melodic stuff, don't bother. This is a sonic explosion best listened to without speaking; it is not easy listening music.


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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