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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2012 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2012 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2012 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1990 | Blue Note Records

Love Call is other half of the New York Is Now session, which is, in a sense, ridiculous. Blue Note issued two records when they really only had one. There were two dates, April 29 and May 7, 1968. Half the tunes from this volume and half from New York Is Now were recorded at each session. Coleman, with Dewey Redman and the rhythm section of Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison, work through Coleman's melodic conceptions and harmonic constructs on five numbers. Coleman plays alto on four tunes and trumpet on three -- better than violin. "Airborne" is the most successful thing here in that Coleman's music matches the rhythm section's energy for the only time on the session. Redman's tenor solo is one of the most bleating and emotionally intense of his career, careening across microphonics as he flats fifths and screeches through a series of arpeggios that cause Coleman to begin his solo at 60 mph at the very top of a scale, and cruise through six or seven melodic variations on its theme before bringing it back down. Meanwhile, Elvin barely breaks a sweat and Garrison creates such a taut harmonic template for Coleman and Redman, they have to stretch. The title track is perhaps Coleman's finest moment on the trumpet. He spatters his notes in such a way that across the B-flat diminished nine scalar invention, he picks up all the tonal qualities in the color palette and chromatically orders them in such a way that they set Redman up with a prime opportunity to alter the melody of the tune one note at a time. Also, the bluesy theme in "Check Out Time," with its echoes of Thelonious Monk's "Blue Monk," is a nice touch, but it should have opened or closed the album. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1965 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2001 | Blue Note Records

Ornette Coleman's 1965 trio with bassist David Izenzon and drummer Charles Moffett is easily the most underrated of all his bands. Coming off the light of the famed quartet in which Don Cherry, Eddie Blackwell, and Charlie Haden shone, anything might have looked a bit dimmer, it's true. But this band certainly had no apologies to make. Coleman was deep into creating a new approach to melody, since Haden and Cherry had honed his harmonic sensibilities. Izenzon proved to be the right bassist for Coleman to realize his ambitions. A stunning arco as well as pizzicato player (check his solo in "Dawn") Izenzon offered Coleman the perfect foil. No matter where Coleman's soloing moved the band, Izenzon was there at exactly the same time with an uncanny sense of counterpoint, and he often changed the harmonic mode by force. The first of these two volumes from December 3 shows Coleman in a playful, mischievous frame of mind, toying with the trio ads well as the audience on "Faces and Places" by inserting standard bop phrases and song quotes into the heart of his free soloing. On "Dee Dee," Coleman moves along to rhythmic counterpoint by Moffett, pushing Izenzon into the unlikely role of beat-keeper -- not simple for such an amazing improviser. But it's on the closer, "Dawn," that the band gels as one inseparable, ethereal unit, cascading through scalar invention and chromatic interplay as if it were second nature. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | Blue Note Records

The second night of Ornette Coleman's two-week stand in Sweden was even fierier than the first, if the recorded documents are to be believed. For starters, December 4 was the night that Coleman brought out the violin and the trumpet on the first tune; "Snowflakes and Sunshine" must have taken club-goers by surprise. Those first notes skitter across the neck as the bow goes "scree" in the middle registers and bassist David Izenzon moves to create an atonal bed of rock for Coleman, while Charles Moffett plays in the triple time to a cipher of a time signature. And just as the violin starts to create a tension that is difficult for the other two members of his trio to endure musically, Coleman switches to trumpet and hauls it back inside, or at least to the ledge's edge before returning to the violin a few minutes later. The rhythm sect tries to rein him in, but he careens off Izenzon's arco playing and into an entirely new harmonic language. For the rest of the gig, it's back to the alto, with Coleman even going as far as to goof on Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" on the opening bars of "Morning Song" before playing a ballad every bit as tender and angularly beautiful as one of his. "Riddles" is one of Coleman's Eastern screamers, played modally with the same kind of breathy acrobatics Coltrane used on the music that made it onto the posthumous Sunship. There are several drone modes created by Izenzon, with off-measure rhythmic figures cut by Moffett. Coleman plays the alto as one would a Tibetan oboe or a thighbone trumpet, reaching deep into the lower register to touch the drone and then sail off into scalar abandon. There is more than enough fire, but the astonishing thing is the color and texture Coleman gets from the horn. The set closes with a lovely, knotty piece called "Antiques," in which Izenzon and Coleman match modes for an interesting meeting of the minds in a dramatic wash of color and mood. This is the stronger of the two evenings, but they are both fine records by an under-recognized band in Coleman's development. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1990 | Blue Note Records

Recorded during the same session that resulted in the Love Call album (in late April and early May of 1968), New York Is Now is one of the true curiosity pieces in Ornette's catalog. With a rhythm section comprised of ex-Coltrane sidemen Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones as well as tenorist Dewey Redman, Ornette is, in some sense, at odds with himself here. This particular rhythm section is a lot more modally than harmonically propelled -- especially Jones, who sounds here like he doesn't know what to do with himself in the restrictive tempos -- and creates a complex set of issues for Coleman and Redman to contend with. That said, on "The Garden of Souls," which opens the album, Coleman makes the most of this sprightly, energetic rhythm team and moves through quotations of "Moon River," "Danny Boy," and even Paul Muriat's "Love Is Blue" during his solo, before shifting the harmonics around and anchoring them somewhere between E flat 7 and E major. On "Broadway Blues," Coleman actually makes use of Monk in his melodic conception, and he and Redman have a go at turning a seven-note vamp into all sorts of knotty material for soloing -- you can almost feel Jones smile as the tempo reaches triple time; the saxophonists have to race each other through it. And while this date is of only marginal interest it is pleasant if not amazing -- with the exception of "For a Commercial," which features Ornette's strident violin playing above the rest of the band in the mix. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Blue Note Records

If there ever was an artist unsuited to a best-of compilation, it's Ornette Coleman. His music is about space and texture within a certain context, not only within the compositions themselves, but in how those songs relate to each other on a particular album or session. By selecting highlights from a series of albums, the songs themselves lose some of their power. That's the main problem with The Best of Ornette Coleman, an otherwise solid overview of his three years at Blue Note. Between 1965 and 1968, he recorded several terrific sessions for the label, and they're all worth hearing. Arguably, the seven songs here are among the best moments from those records, and they do give some sense of what his music is about, but neophytes would be better off with a full album, which will give a more accurate portrait of Coleman's music and its greatness. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo