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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 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 June 23, 1987 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal 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 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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Free Jazz & Avant-Garde - Released May 25, 2018 | Rhino Atlantic

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Miles Davis had publicly called him a madman. Leonard Bernstein found him, for his part, completely awesome. Few were those that didn’t have a definitive opinion on Ornette Coleman. Some kind of outlaw who preferred playing his own compositions rather than jazz classics, the American saxophonist also developed harmolodics, a theory uniting harmonics and melody. Coleman would remain a trailblazer, a spoilsport who would influence legions of musicians, and would also annoy a good number of them… This box of ten discs compiles one of the most important era in the career of his author. Between 1959 and 1961, he released six studio albums for the Atlantic label. Six albums that are present here and spiced up with alternative takes and various bonuses, all of this of course impeccably remastered by John Webber. Through the opuses The Shape Of Jazz To Come (1959), Change Of The Century (1959), This Is Our Music (1960), Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation (1960), Ornette! (1961) and Ornette On Tenor (1961), and the compilations The Art Of Improvisers (1970), Twins (1971), To Whom Who Keeps A Record (1975) and The Ornette Coleman Legacy (1993), we discover the protean art of a musician that had never stopped reassessing himself. A singular and unique voice assisted by other singular and unique voices like Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, Scott LaFaro, Billy Higgins and Ed Blackwell. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released March 22, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

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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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 March 22, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Like many of Ornette Coleman's Atlantic sides, The Art of the Improvisers was recorded in numerous sessions from 1959-1961 and assembled for the purpose of creating a cohesive recorded statement. Its opening track, "The Circle with the Hole in the Middle," from 1959, with the classic quartet of Don Cherry, Ed Blackwell, and Charlie Haden, is one of Coleman's recognizable pieces of music. Essentially, the band is that quartet with two very notable exceptions: The last tracks on each side feature a different bass player. On the end of side one, the great Scott LaFaro weighs in on "The Alchemy of Scott La Faro," and Jimmy Garrison weighs in on "Harlem's Manhattan" to close the album out. These last two sessions were recorded early in 1961, in January and March respectively. As an album, The Art of the Improvisers is usually undervalued when placed next to This Is Our Music or The Shape of Jazz to Come. This is a mistake in that some of Coleman's most deeply lyrical harmonic structures reside here in tracks such as "Just for You," with literally stunning intervallic interplay between him and Cherry from the middle to the end. The track also messes with standard blues form and comes up in a modal way without seemingly intending to. The set roars into "The Fifth of Beethoven," which collapses a series of flatted fifths around Haden and Cherry, and Coleman goes on a Texas blues spree in his solo, dancing all around them. "The Alchemy of Scott La Faro" must have pissed off the hard boppers like nothing else. Here is a straining sprint that the quartet takes in stride as LaFaro and Blackwell charge around the edges in frightening time signatures. Coleman and Cherry for the most part clamor around a B flat-C sharp major figure and run circles around each other in muscular fashion as LaFaro goes pizzicato to head with Coleman in the middle, turning the saxophonist's phrases into rhythmic structures which Blackwell accents as if cued. But he's not; this is invented on the spot. Coleman's deep lyricism shines through despite the tempo, and the entire thing goes out in a blaze of light. "The Legend of Bebop" is a jazz history lesson with the band working out on the front line, quoting from Sidney Bechet and Louis Armstrong, moving through some Ellingtonian themes, and slipping around the corner to a slow, blued-out bebop before taking off in consonant solos and counterpoint. "Harlem's Manhattan," with Garrison in Haden's bass chair, begins with a quote right from Parker and Gillespie before challenging the framework of the blues and its tempos. Blackwell is a blur of the dance, his cymbal work against Garrison's punctuated accents make Coleman's and Cherry's jobs knotty and difficult, but always rooted in the melody that blues inspires. This is basically one of Coleman's most uptempo records for Atlantic, but also one of his most soulful. It deserves serious re-evaluation. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Free Jazz & Avant-Garde - Released May 25, 2018 | Rhino Atlantic

Miles Davis had publicly called him a madman. Leonard Bernstein found him, for his part, completely awesome. Few were those that didn’t have a definitive opinion on Ornette Coleman. Some kind of outlaw who preferred playing his own compositions rather than jazz classics, the American saxophonist also developed harmolodics, a theory uniting harmonics and melody. Coleman would remain a trailblazer, a spoilsport who would influence legions of musicians, and would also annoy a good number of them… This box of ten discs compiles one of the most important era in the career of his author. Between 1959 and 1961, he released six studio albums for the Atlantic label. Six albums that are present here and spiced up with alternative takes and various bonuses, all of this of course impeccably remastered by John Webber. Through the opuses The Shape Of Jazz To Come (1959), Change Of The Century (1959), This Is Our Music (1960), Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation (1960), Ornette! (1961) and Ornette On Tenor (1961), and the compilations The Art Of Improvisers (1970), Twins (1971), To Whom Who Keeps A Record (1975) and The Ornette Coleman Legacy (1993), we discover the protean art of a musician that had never stopped reassessing himself. A singular and unique voice assisted by other singular and unique voices like Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, Scott LaFaro, Billy Higgins and Ed Blackwell. © Marc Zisman/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 March 22, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

As jazz's first extended, continuous free improvisation LP, Free Jazz practically defies superlatives in its historical importance. Ornette Coleman's music had already been tagged "free," but this album took the term to a whole new level. Aside from a predetermined order of featured soloists and several brief transition signals cued by Coleman, the entire piece was created spontaneously, right on the spot. The lineup was expanded to a double-quartet format, split into one quartet for each stereo channel: Ornette, trumpeter Don Cherry, bassist Scott LaFaro, and drummer Billy Higgins on the left; trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, bass clarinetist Eric Dolphy, bassist Charlie Haden, and drummer Ed Blackwell on the right. The rhythm sections all play at once, anchoring the whole improvisation with a steady, driving pulse. The six spotlight sections feature each horn in turn, plus a bass duet and drum duet; the "soloists" are really leading dialogues, where the other instruments are free to support, push, or punctuate the featured player's lines. Since there was no road map for this kind of recording, each player simply brought his already established style to the table. That means there are still elements of convention and melody in the individual voices, which makes Free Jazz far more accessible than the efforts that followed once more of the jazz world caught up. Still, the album was enormously controversial in its bare-bones structure and lack of repeated themes. Despite resembling the abstract painting on the cover, it wasn't quite as radical as it seemed; the concept of collective improvisation actually had deep roots in jazz history, going all the way back to the freewheeling early Dixieland ensembles of New Orleans. Jazz had long prided itself on reflecting American freedom and democracy and, with Free Jazz, Coleman simply took those ideals to the next level. A staggering achievement. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Jazz - Released October 16, 2007 | Rhino Atlantic

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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 June 23, 1987 | Rhino Atlantic

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 May 26, 2003 | Rhino Atlantic

Ornette Coleman's Twins (first issued on LP in 1971) has been looked at as an afterthought in many respects. A collection of sessions from 1959, 1960, and 1961 with different bands, they are allegedly takes from vinyl LP sessions commercially limited at that time to 40 minutes on vinyl, and not initially released until many years later. Connoisseurs consider this one of his better recordings in that it offers an overview of what Coleman was thinking in those pivotal years of the free bop movement rather than the concentrated efforts of The Art of the Improvisers, Change of the Century, The Shape of Jazz to Come, This Is Our Music, and of course the pivotal Free Jazz. There are three most definitive selections that define Coleman's sound and concept. "Monk & the Nun" is angular like Thelonious Monk, soulful as spiritualism, and golden with the rhythm team of bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Billy Higgins driving the sweet and sour alto sax of Coleman and piquant trumpeting of Don Cherry. "Check Up" is a wild roller coaster ride, mixing meters, tempos, and dynamics in a blender in an unforgettable display of sheer virtuosity, and featuring bassist Scott LaFaro. "Joy of a Toy" displays the playful Ornette Coleman in interval leaps, complicated bungee jumps, in many ways whimsical but not undecipherable. It is one of the most intriguing of all of Coleman's compositions. Less essential, "First Take" showcases his double quartet in a churning composition left off the original release This Is Our Music, loaded with interplay as a showcase for a precocious young trumpeter named Freddie Hubbard, the ribald bass clarinet of Eric Dolphy, and the first appearance with Coleman's groups for New Orleans drummer Ed Blackwell. "Little Symphony" has a great written line with room for solos in a joyful hard bop center with the quartet of Coleman, Cherry, Haden, and Blackwell. All in all an excellent outing for Coleman from a hodgepodge of recordings that gives a broader view of his vision and the music that would come later in the '60s. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo