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Ornette Coleman - Beauty Is A Rare Thing- The Complete Atlantic Recordings

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Beauty Is A Rare Thing- The Complete Atlantic Recordings

Ornette Coleman

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While it's true this set has been given the highest rating AMG awards, it comes with a qualifier: the rating is for the music and the package, not necessarily the presentation. Presentation is a compiler's nightmare in the case of artists like John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, who recorded often and at different times and had most of their recordings issued from the wealth of material available at the time a record was needed rather than culling an album from a particular session. Why is this a problem? It's twofold: First is that listeners got acquainted with recordings such as The Shape of Jazz to Come, This Is Our Music, Change of the Century, Twins, or any of the other four records Ornette Coleman released on Atlantic during that period. The other is one of economics; for those collectors who believe in the integrity of the original albums, they need to own both those recordings and this set, since the box features one album that was only issued in Japan as well as six unreleased tunes and the three Coleman compositions that appeared on Gunther Schuller's Jazz Abstractions record. Politically what's interesting about this box is that though the folks at Rhino and Atlantic essentially created a completely different document here, putting Coleman's music in a very different context than the way in which it was originally presented, his royalty rate was unchanged -- he refused to do any publicity for this set when it was issued as a result. As for the plus side of such a collection, there is a certain satisfaction at hearing complete sessions in context. That cannot be argued -- what is at stake is at what price to the original recorded presentations. Enough complaining. As for the music, as mentioned, the original eight albums Coleman recorded for Atlantic are here, in one form or another, in their entirety: Shape of Jazz to Come, Change of the Century, The Art of the Improvisers, Twins, This Is Our Music, Free Jazz, Ornette, and Ornette on Tenor, plus To Whom Keeps a Record, comprised of recordings dating from 1959 to 1960. In fact all of the material here was recorded between 1959 and 1961. Given that there is a total of six completely unreleased compositions as well as alternate takes and masters, this is a formidable mountain of material recorded with not only the classic quartet of Coleman, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, and Billy Higgins, but also the large double quartet who produced the two-sided improvisation that is Free Jazz with personalities as diverse as Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, and Scott LaFaro, as well as Coleman, Cherry, Haden, and Ed Blackwell, who had replaced Higgins on the music for To Whom Keeps a Record and This Is Our Music -- though Higgins does play on Free Jazz. The progression of the recording sessions musically is one of dynamics, color, and, with the addition of Blackwell, firepower. As the listener moves from the first session that would become most of The Shape of Jazz to Come, listeners can hear how the interplay between Cherry and Coleman works lyrically not so much as a system, but as system of the creation of melody from dead fragments of harmony, thereby creating a harmonic sensibility that cares not for changes and chord progressions, but for the progression of music itself in the context of a quartet. From the sharp edges on "Focus on Sanity," through "Peace" and "Congeniality," through "Lonely Woman," Coleman's approach to harmony was one of disparate yet wholly compatible elements. This is the story as the sessions unfold, one kind of lyricism evolving into itself more fully and completely with time. On Change of the Century, Twins, and This Is Our Music, Coleman shifts his emphasis slightly, adding depth and dimension and the creation of melody that comes out of the blues as direct and simply stated as possible. By the time LaFaro enters the picture on Free Jazz and Art of the Improvisers, melody has multiplied and divided itself into essence, and essence becomes an exponential force in the creation of a new musical syntax. The recordings from 1960 and 1961, along with the unreleased masters and alternates, all show Coleman fully in possession of his muse. The trek of musicians through the band -- like Jimmy Garrison and Eric Dolphy, as well as people like Jim Hall and Bill Evans where Coleman appeared in Gunther Schuller's experiments -- all reveal that from The Shape of Jazz to Come through Ornette on Tenor, Coleman was trying to put across the fully developed picture of his musical theory of the time. And unlike most, he completely succeeded. Even on the unreleased compositions, such as the flyaway storm of "Revolving Doors" or "PROOF Readers" or the slippery blues of "The Tribes of New York," Coleman took the open-door approach and let everything in -- he didn't necessarily let it all out. The package itself is, as are all Rhino boxes, handsome and original; there are three double-CD sleeves that all slip into a half box, which slips, reversed, into the whole box. There is a 68-page booklet with a ton of photographs, complete session notes, and liners by Coleman (disappointingly brief, but he was pissed off at the label), a fantastic essay by the late Robert Palmer, recollections by all the musicians, and quotes from Coleman from interviews given through the decades. The sound is wonderful and the mastering job superb. In all -- aside from the breach of pop culture's own historical context, which is at least an alternate reality -- this is, along with John Coltrane's Atlantic set and the Miles & Coltrane box, one of the most essential jazz CD purchases.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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Beauty Is A Rare Thing- The Complete Atlantic Recordings

Ornette Coleman

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1
Focus on Sanity LP Version
00:06:52

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1959 Atlantic Recording Corporation

2
Chronology LP Version
00:06:04

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1959 Atlantic Recording Corporation

3
Peace LP Version
00:09:05

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1959 Atlantic Recording Corporation.

4
Congeniality LP Version
00:06:48

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1959 Atlantic Recording Corporation

5
Lonely Woman LP Version
00:05:00

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1959 Atlantic Recording Corporation.

6
Monk and the Nun LP Version
00:05:53

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1971 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States.

7
Just for You LP Version
00:03:53

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1970 Atlantic Recording Corporation

8
Eventually LP Version
00:04:23

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1959 Atlantic Recording Corporation

9
Una Muy Bonita LP Version
00:06:03

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1960 Atlantic Recording Corporation.

10
Bird Food LP Version
00:05:31

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1960 Atlantic Recording Corporation.

11
Change of the Century LP Version
00:04:44

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1960 Atlantic Recording Corporation.

12
Music Always LP Version
00:05:31

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1975 Atlantic Recording Corporation

13
The Face of the Bass LP Version
00:06:58

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1960 Atlantic Recording Corporation.

14
Forerunner LP Version
00:05:15

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1960 Atlantic Recording Corporation.

15
Free LP Version
00:06:20

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1960 Atlantic Recording Corporation

16
The Circle with a Hole in the Middle LP Version
00:04:54

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1970 Atlantic Recording Corporation

17
Ramblin' LP Version
00:06:36

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1960 Atlantic Recording Corporation

18
Little Symphony LP Version
00:05:15

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1971 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States.

19
The Tribes of New York LP Version
00:04:35

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1993 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States.

20
Kaleidoscope LP Version
00:06:37

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet - Ed Blackwell, Drums

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1960 1961 Atlantic Records Corporation

21
Rise and Shine LP Version
00:06:11

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1993 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States.

22
Mr. And Mrs. People LP Version
00:04:43

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1993 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States.

23
P.S. Unless One Has (Blues Connotation) LP Version
00:05:18

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet - Ed Blackwell, Drums

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1961 Atlantic Recording Corporation

24
I Heard It over the Radio LP Version
00:06:24

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1993 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States.

25
P.S. Unless One Has (Blues Connotation No. 2) LP Version
00:05:52

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet - Ed Blackwell, Drums

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1975 Atlantic Recording Corporation

26
Revolving Doors LP Version
00:04:28

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1993 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States.

27
Brings Goodness LP Version
00:06:40

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1975 Atlantic Recording Corporation

28
Joy of a Toy LP Version
00:04:56

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1971 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States.

29
To Us LP Version
00:04:36

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1975 Atlantic Recording Corporation

30
Humpty Dumpty LP Version
00:05:24

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet - Ed Blackwell, Drums

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1961 Atlantic Recording Corporation

31
The Fifth of Beethoven LP Version
00:06:38

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1970 Atlantic Recording Corporation

32
Motive for Its Use LP Version
00:05:41

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1975 Atlantic Recording Corporation

33
Moon Inhabitants LP Version
00:04:32

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1993 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States.

34
The Legend of Bebop LP Version
00:07:18

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1970 Atlantic Recording Corporation

35
Some Other LP Version
00:07:23

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1975 Atlantic Recording Corporation

36
Embraceable You LP Version
00:04:54

George Gershwin, Composer - Ira Gershwin, Lyricist - Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Ornette Coleman, Tenor Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Trumpet - Ed Blackwell, Drums

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1961 Atlantic Records Corporation

37
All LP Version
00:04:31

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1975 Atlantic Recording Corporation

38
Folk Tale LP Version
00:04:49

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Trumpet - Ed Blackwell, Drums

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1961 Atlantic Recording Corporation

39
Poise LP Version
00:04:38

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Trumpet - Ed Blackwell, Drums

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1961 Atlantic Records

40
Beauty Is a Rare Thing LP Version
00:07:15

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Trumpet - Ed Blackwell, Drums

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1961 Atlantic Records Corporation

41
First Take LP Version
00:16:56

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Freddie Hubbard, Trumpet - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet - Ed Blackwell, Drums - Eric Dolphy, Bass Clarinet - Scott LaFaro, Double Bass

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1971 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States.

42
Free Jazz (Pts. 1 & 2) Parts 1 & 2 LP Version
00:37:04

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Freddie Hubbard, Trumpet - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet - Ed Blackwell, Drums - Eric Dolphy, Bass Clarinet - Scott LaFaro, Double Bass

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1993 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States.

43
Proof Readers LP Version
00:10:28

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Billy Higgins, Drums - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Charlie Haden, Double Bass - Don Cherry, Cornet

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1993 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States.

44
W.R.U. LP Version
00:16:28

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Scott La Faro, Double Bass - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Don Cherry, Trumpet - Ed Blackwell, Drums

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1993 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States.

45
Check Up LP Version
00:10:08

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Scott La Faro, Double Bass - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Don Cherry, Trumpet - Ed Blackwell, Drums

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1971 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States.

46
T & T LP Version
00:04:38

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Scott La Faro, Double Bass - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Don Cherry, Trumpet - Ed Blackwell, Drums

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1993 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States.

47
C. & D. LP Version
00:13:12

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Scott La Faro, Double Bass - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Don Cherry, Trumpet - Ed Blackwell, Drums

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1993 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States.

48
R.P.D.D.
00:09:41

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Scott La Faro, Double Bass - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Don Cherry, Trumpet - Ed Blackwell, Drums

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1993 Atlantic Recording Corporation for the United States and WEA International Inc. for the world outside of the United States.

49
The Alchemy of Scott Lafaro LP Version
00:09:50

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Alto Saxophone, MainArtist - Don Cherry, Trumpet - Ed Blackwell, Drums - Scott LaFaro, Double Bass

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1970 Atlantic Recording Corporation

50
EOS LP Version
00:06:35

Nesuhi Ertegun, Producer - Jimmy Garrison, Double Bass - Ornette Coleman, Composer, Tenor Saxophone, MainArtist - Don Cherry, Trumpet - Ed Blackwell, Drums

2005 Atlantic Recording Corp. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing 1962 Atlantic Recording Corporation

Album Description

While it's true this set has been given the highest rating AMG awards, it comes with a qualifier: the rating is for the music and the package, not necessarily the presentation. Presentation is a compiler's nightmare in the case of artists like John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, who recorded often and at different times and had most of their recordings issued from the wealth of material available at the time a record was needed rather than culling an album from a particular session. Why is this a problem? It's twofold: First is that listeners got acquainted with recordings such as The Shape of Jazz to Come, This Is Our Music, Change of the Century, Twins, or any of the other four records Ornette Coleman released on Atlantic during that period. The other is one of economics; for those collectors who believe in the integrity of the original albums, they need to own both those recordings and this set, since the box features one album that was only issued in Japan as well as six unreleased tunes and the three Coleman compositions that appeared on Gunther Schuller's Jazz Abstractions record. Politically what's interesting about this box is that though the folks at Rhino and Atlantic essentially created a completely different document here, putting Coleman's music in a very different context than the way in which it was originally presented, his royalty rate was unchanged -- he refused to do any publicity for this set when it was issued as a result. As for the plus side of such a collection, there is a certain satisfaction at hearing complete sessions in context. That cannot be argued -- what is at stake is at what price to the original recorded presentations. Enough complaining. As for the music, as mentioned, the original eight albums Coleman recorded for Atlantic are here, in one form or another, in their entirety: Shape of Jazz to Come, Change of the Century, The Art of the Improvisers, Twins, This Is Our Music, Free Jazz, Ornette, and Ornette on Tenor, plus To Whom Keeps a Record, comprised of recordings dating from 1959 to 1960. In fact all of the material here was recorded between 1959 and 1961. Given that there is a total of six completely unreleased compositions as well as alternate takes and masters, this is a formidable mountain of material recorded with not only the classic quartet of Coleman, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, and Billy Higgins, but also the large double quartet who produced the two-sided improvisation that is Free Jazz with personalities as diverse as Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, and Scott LaFaro, as well as Coleman, Cherry, Haden, and Ed Blackwell, who had replaced Higgins on the music for To Whom Keeps a Record and This Is Our Music -- though Higgins does play on Free Jazz. The progression of the recording sessions musically is one of dynamics, color, and, with the addition of Blackwell, firepower. As the listener moves from the first session that would become most of The Shape of Jazz to Come, listeners can hear how the interplay between Cherry and Coleman works lyrically not so much as a system, but as system of the creation of melody from dead fragments of harmony, thereby creating a harmonic sensibility that cares not for changes and chord progressions, but for the progression of music itself in the context of a quartet. From the sharp edges on "Focus on Sanity," through "Peace" and "Congeniality," through "Lonely Woman," Coleman's approach to harmony was one of disparate yet wholly compatible elements. This is the story as the sessions unfold, one kind of lyricism evolving into itself more fully and completely with time. On Change of the Century, Twins, and This Is Our Music, Coleman shifts his emphasis slightly, adding depth and dimension and the creation of melody that comes out of the blues as direct and simply stated as possible. By the time LaFaro enters the picture on Free Jazz and Art of the Improvisers, melody has multiplied and divided itself into essence, and essence becomes an exponential force in the creation of a new musical syntax. The recordings from 1960 and 1961, along with the unreleased masters and alternates, all show Coleman fully in possession of his muse. The trek of musicians through the band -- like Jimmy Garrison and Eric Dolphy, as well as people like Jim Hall and Bill Evans where Coleman appeared in Gunther Schuller's experiments -- all reveal that from The Shape of Jazz to Come through Ornette on Tenor, Coleman was trying to put across the fully developed picture of his musical theory of the time. And unlike most, he completely succeeded. Even on the unreleased compositions, such as the flyaway storm of "Revolving Doors" or "PROOF Readers" or the slippery blues of "The Tribes of New York," Coleman took the open-door approach and let everything in -- he didn't necessarily let it all out. The package itself is, as are all Rhino boxes, handsome and original; there are three double-CD sleeves that all slip into a half box, which slips, reversed, into the whole box. There is a 68-page booklet with a ton of photographs, complete session notes, and liners by Coleman (disappointingly brief, but he was pissed off at the label), a fantastic essay by the late Robert Palmer, recollections by all the musicians, and quotes from Coleman from interviews given through the decades. The sound is wonderful and the mastering job superb. In all -- aside from the breach of pop culture's own historical context, which is at least an alternate reality -- this is, along with John Coltrane's Atlantic set and the Miles & Coltrane box, one of the most essential jazz CD purchases.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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