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Jazz - Released December 21, 1965 | ESP Disk'

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Jazz - Released March 21, 2019 | Vintage Jukebox

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Jazz - Released December 17, 2000 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions Ideal Audio Discography
This album belongs to a time when jazz record executives slapped broad boasts and proclamations onto their products. These usually celebrated the prowess of the artist (Sonny Rollins' Saxophone Colossus) or the potency of the sounds (the Count Basie Orchestra's Atomic Basie). The Shape of Jazz To Come takes that hype up a notch, promoting alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman as no less than the future of the art. As prophecy goes, the title is spot on. This record introduced Coleman's daring approach to harmony (which he called "harmelodics"), and showed how it stretched common wisdom about consonance and dissonance, structure and openness, hard swing and tempoless contemplation. Coleman and his three agile musicians—trumpeter Don Cherry, bassist Charlie Haden, drummer Billy Higgins; note the absence of a harmony instrument like piano or guitar—engage in a series of squabbling conversations loosely shaped (and occasionally punctuated) by recurring melodic fragments. The ad-libbed motifs dart around corners rapidly; sometimes they bloom and then disappear immediately, sometimes they hang around and mutate as they're volleyed between instrumentalists. The most famous of these is "Lonely Woman," a sullen Coleman original that's easily his most ubiquitous tune. Following a deliberative bass opening from Haden, Coleman renders it as a study in hanging questions and unresolved mysteries. Other tunes, including "Focus On Sanity" (Coleman's choice for the album title), summon the frenetic energy and taunting fury that soon came to be associated with free jazz. Indeed, it contains maps to the terrain of the future: Historians generally mark this work, which was enshrined in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry in 2012, as the foundation of the entire jazz avant garde movement. And though the music quickly sprouted more strident modes of expression, this album's forward-hurtling spirit still delivers on the claim of the title. © Tom Moon/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released October 21, 2003 | Rhino Atlantic

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. Coleman, by this time, 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. © Brian Olewnick /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 3, 2004 | Rhino Atlantic

It's an understatement to say that Ornette Coleman's stint with Atlantic altered the jazz world forever, and Ornette on Tenor was the last of his six LPs (not counting outtakes compilations) for the label, wrapping up one of the most controversial and free-thinking series of recordings in jazz history. Actually, it's probably his least stunning Atlantic, not quite as revolutionary or memorable as many of its predecessors, but still far ahead of its time. Coleman hadn't played much tenor since a group of Louisiana thugs beat him and destroyed his instrument, but he hadn't lost his affection for the tenor's soulful, expressive honk and the ease with which people connected with it. That rationale might suggest a more musically accessible session, but that isn't the case. Ornette on Tenor is just as challenging and harmonically advanced as any of his previous Atlantics. In fact, it's arguably more so, since there aren't really any memorable themes to return to. That means there are fewer opportunities for Coleman and Don Cherry to interact and harmonize, which puts the focus mainly on Coleman's return to tenor playing. And, actually, it isn't tremendously different from his alto playing. There are a few traces of Coleman's early Texas gutbucket R&B days, plus a few spots where he explores a breathier tone, but for the most part his spiraling solo lines are very similar to his other Atlantic albums, and his upper-register sound is often a dead ringer for his plaintive alto cries. With Coleman ostensibly exploring new territory, it's hard not to be a little disappointed that Ornette on Tenor doesn't have the boundary-shattering impact of his previous work -- but then again, it's probably asking too much to expect a revolution every time out. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Jazz - Released March 22, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Stereophile: Record To Die For
This album belongs to a time when jazz record executives slapped broad boasts and proclamations onto their products. These usually celebrated the prowess of the artist (Sonny Rollins' Saxophone Colossus) or the potency of the sounds (the Count Basie Orchestra's Atomic Basie). The Shape of Jazz To Come takes that hype up a notch, promoting alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman as no less than the future of the art. As prophecy goes, the title is spot on. This record introduced Coleman's daring approach to harmony (which he called "harmelodics"), and showed how it stretched common wisdom about consonance and dissonance, structure and openness, hard swing and tempoless contemplation. Coleman and his three agile musicians—trumpeter Don Cherry, bassist Charlie Haden, drummer Billy Higgins; note the absence of a harmony instrument like piano or guitar—engage in a series of squabbling conversations loosely shaped (and occasionally punctuated) by recurring melodic fragments. The ad-libbed motifs dart around corners rapidly; sometimes they bloom and then disappear immediately, sometimes they hang around and mutate as they're volleyed between instrumentalists. The most famous of these is "Lonely Woman," a sullen Coleman original that's easily his most ubiquitous tune. Following a deliberative bass opening from Haden, Coleman renders it as a study in hanging questions and unresolved mysteries. Other tunes, including "Focus On Sanity" (Coleman's choice for the album title), summon the frenetic energy and taunting fury that soon came to be associated with free jazz. Indeed, it contains maps to the terrain of the future: Historians generally mark this work, which was enshrined in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry in 2012, as the foundation of the entire jazz avant garde movement. And though the music quickly sprouted more strident modes of expression, this album's forward-hurtling spirit still delivers on the claim of the title. © Tom Moon/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released April 1, 2009 | Rhino Atlantic

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1966 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

Ornette Coleman's brief tenure at Blue Note was neither as seminal as his Atlantic output nor as brazenly ambitious as his early-'70s work for Columbia and later with Prime Time. Still, the period did produce some quality music, and The Empty Foxhole is one of his most intriguing efforts. Coleman hadn't entered a recording studio in over four years when he returned -- with his ten-year-old son Denardo on drums. Coleman says in the liner notes that Denardo was ready to make a record the previous year, and he's not overestimating; Denardo's percussive coloring and shading never sounds lost or confused, and his stream-of-consciousness flow of ideas keeps up surprisingly well with his father and bassist Charlie Haden. The communal energy keeps flowing throughout the session, and the trio members play off of each other with an easygoing enthusiasm, even on the less memorable themes. Most evocative are the funereal military march of the title track, where Ornette's mournful trumpet plays off of Denardo's deliberate cadence, and "Sound Gravitation," a feature for Coleman's scratchy, percussive violin. Of the alto-driven pieces, "Good Old Days" has the fieriest flow of ideas, but he seems energized by his son's presence, and his playing is fairly exciting throughout. On balance, the music may not be among Coleman's most exceptional efforts, but there's something inspiring about the fact that The Empty Foxhole is as good as it is. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Jazz - Released October 18, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

The second album by Ornette Coleman's legendary quartet featuring Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, and Billy Higgins, Change of the Century is every bit the equal of the monumental The Shape of Jazz to Come, showcasing a group that was growing ever more confident in its revolutionary approach and the chemistry in the bandmembers' interplay. When Coleman concentrates on melody, his main themes are catchier, and when the pieces emphasize group interaction, the improvisation is freer. Two of Coleman's most memorable classic compositions are here in their original forms -- "Ramblin'" has all the swing and swagger of the blues, and "Una Muy Bonita" is oddly disjointed, its theme stopping and starting in totally unexpected places; both secure their themes to stable, pedal-point bass figures. The more outside group improv pieces are frequently just as fascinating; "Free," for example, features a double-tongued line that races up and down in free time before giving way to the ensemble's totally spontaneous inventions. The title cut is a frantic, way-out mélange of cascading lines that nearly trip over themselves, brief stabs of notes in the lead voices, and jarringly angular intervals -- it must have infuriated purists who couldn't even stomach Coleman's catchiest tunes. Coleman was frequently disparaged for not displaying the same mastery of instrumental technique and harmonic vocabulary as his predecessors, but his aesthetic prized feeling and expression above all that anyway. Maybe that's why Change of the Century bursts with such tremendous urgency and exuberance -- Coleman was hitting his stride and finally letting out all the ideas and emotions that had previously been constrained by tradition. That vitality makes it an absolutely essential purchase and, like The Shape of Jazz to Come, some of the most brilliant work of Coleman's career. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2012 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1965 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released February 18, 1988 | Legacy Recordings

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Jazz - Released August 22, 2018 | nagel heyer records

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Jazz - Released October 16, 2007 | Rhino Atlantic

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Jazz - Released June 1, 2012 | ESP-Disk

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2011 | Contemporary

Distinctions Indispensable JAZZ NEWS
This 1958 debut recording by the Ornette Coleman Quintet, which featured Coleman on his trademark white plastic alto, Don Cherry on trumpet, Billy Higgins on drums, Walter Norris on piano, and Don Payne on bass, shook up the jazz world -- particularly those musicians and critics who had entered the hard bop era with such verve and were busy using the blues as a way of creating vast solo spaces inside tight and short melody lines. Something Else!!!! is anathema to that entire idea, and must have sounded like it came from outer space at the time. First, Coleman's interest was in pitch, not "being in tune." His use of pitch could take him all over -- and outside of -- a composition, as it does on "Invisible," which begins in D flat. The intervals are standard, but the melodic component of the tune -- despite its hard bop tempo -- is, for the most part, free. But what is most compelling is evident in abundance here and on the next two tunes, "The Blessing" and "Jayne": a revitalization of the blues as it expressed itself in jazz. Coleman refurbished the blues framework, threaded it through his jazz without getting rid of its folk-like, simplistic milieu. In other words, the groove Coleman was getting here was a people's groove that only confounded intellectuals at the time. Coleman restored blues to their "classic" beginnings in African music and unhooked their harmonies. Whether the key was D flat, A, G, whatever, Coleman revisited the 17- and 25-bar blues. There are normal signatures, however, such as "Chippie" in F and in eight-bar form, and "The Disguise" is in D, but in a strange 13-bar form where the first and the last change places, altering the talking-like voice inherent in the melodic line. But the most important thing about Something Else! was that, in its angular, almost totally oppositional way, it swung and still does; like a finger-poppin' daddy on a Saturday night, this record swings from the rafters of the human heart with the most unusually gifted, emotional, and lyrical line since Bill Evans first hit the scene. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released June 24, 2013 | Ace Records

This disc contains one of Ornette Coleman's lesser-known sessions. In addition to his own alto (and occasional trumpet and violin), Coleman is joined by Dewey Redman on tenor, bassist Charlie Haden, drummer Ed Blackwell, and (on one of the two versions of "Friends and Neighbors") a variety of friends who sing along as best they can. Actually, the most notable tracks are the two extended pieces, "Long Time No See" and "Tomorrow." The music is typically adventurous, melodic in its own way, yet still pretty futuristic, even if (compared with his other releases) the set as a whole is not all that essential. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released October 18, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
With two landmark albums already under its belt, the Ornette Coleman Quartet spent nearly a year out of the studio before reconvening for This Is Our Music. This time, Billy Higgins is replaced on drums by Ed Blackwell, who has a similar knack for anticipating the ensemble's direction, and proves a more fiery presence on tracks like "Kaleidoscope" and "Folk Tale." The session is also notable for containing the only standard (or, for that matter, the only non-original) Coleman recorded during his tenure with Atlantic -- Gershwin's "Embraceable You," which is given a lyrical interpretation and even a rather old-time, sentimental intro (which may or may not be sarcastic, but really is pretty). In general, though, Coleman disapproved of giving up his own voice and viewed standards as concessions to popular taste; as the unapologetic title of the album makes clear, he wanted to be taken (or left) on his own terms. And that word "our" also makes clear just how important the concept of group improvisation was to Coleman's goals. Anyone can improvise whenever he feels like it, and the players share such empathy that each knows how to add to the feeling of the ensemble without undermining its egalitarian sense of give and take. Their stark, thin textures were highly distinctive, and both Coleman and Cherry chose instruments (respectively, an alto made of plastic rather than brass and a pocket trumpet or cornet instead of a standard trumpet) to accentuate that quality. It's all showcased to best effect here on the hard-swinging "Blues Connotation" and the haunting "Beauty Is a Rare Thing," though pretty much every composition has something to recommend it. All in all, This Is Our Music keeps one of the hottest creative streaks in jazz history going strong. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 28, 1972 | Columbia - Legacy