Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

407

Ornette Coleman at the Skopje Jazz Festival, Macedonia

Nenad Georgievski By

Sign in to view read count
The audience, clearly mesmerized, wanted as much of Coleman as they could get.
Ornette Coleman
Skopje Jazz Festival
Skopje, Republic of Macedonia
October 23, 2006


Each year the Skopje Jazz Festival manages to top itself. Whatever featured lineup gathers under the cover of the event's large umbrella, it always manages to surpass the previous year. The pattern has continued for the last 24 years, and this year's event, which included a celebration of the festival's 25-year existence, was no exception. Over these two and one-half decades the festival has continually blossomed, with many new generations attending and witnessing exceptional concerts with great and varied lineups, interesting concepts, and internationally diverse jazz idioms.
This year's lineup featured diverse acts such as Andy Bey, Vinicius Cantuaria, Joao Bosco with Gonzalo Rubacalba, E.S.T and—the cherry on the top of this jazz parfait—Ornette Coleman. But apart from the featured attraction, the program and innovative concepts, I have always had a special love of the closing nights. It's the memories of great events and performances on those final nights that has proven the festival's crowning glory over the past few years.
I remember an exceptional performance by Nils Petter Molvaer and his geared-up band, presenting a healthy combination of and interaction between live music and an improvised DJ set. Later that evening, Molvaer was very polite and patient as we had a nice conversation. I also remember the shocking performance of Cecil Taylor's Sound Vision band when they stormed the Universall Hall with their sound exorcism, which proved to exorcise more than merely sound. I think he holds the record for the fastest emptying of the Universall Hall. Even the people who operate the soundboard remember Taylor's sound man deliberately twisting the knobs on the amplifiers (to achieve maximum sonic penetration and effect). It was completely opposite to that night's performance by Mingus' Big Band, which performed music notable for its loveliness and tenderness. And I will never forget the fun I had with Marcio Faraco, who threw a very entertaining and compelling story-telling show—engaging and fascinating yet filled with fun and jokes that never seemed to end.


L:R: Tony Falanga, Al McDowell, Ornette Coleman



As for this year's feature, Ornette Coleman's performance was something that has long been anticipated. The music that he and his band performed on October 23 had rough textures suggestive of a non-brushed diamond. Backed by Denardo Coleman on drums, Tony Falanga on bass and Al McDowell on electric bass, the band played tight but simultaneously loose, with each member assuming the roles of both soloist and accompanist. Nothing about the band's compositions, approach or performance could be tagged as "classical" in the formal sense. Obviously blessed with a gift of communication, Coleman easily and visibly found his way to people's heads, ears and hearts. One could see that he played with great passion, showing stunning melodic creativity and an ever fertile imagination. His many-colored lines moved in directions that were parallel, contrary, multi-polyphonic, and occasionaly within the resulting soundscapes you would hear echoes of Zorn's Masada or Metheny's music. As I was sitting there and listening, I felt as though I was watching history unfold, just as those long before me must have felt upon first hearing Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, or John Coltrane. Throughout the evening there were emotional peaks moving the listener to ever higher plateaus of excitement.



The audience, clearly mesmerized, wanted as much of Coleman as they could get, and he reciprocated with three encores, even inviting people from the audience to join him on stage, where some of the participants recited poetry, sang or improvised melodies along with the American jazz legend. Even backstage after the concert, people continued to express their feelings to Coleman, the band and their crew—practically a flood of fans conveying their gratitude.

In short, the performance of Ornette Coleman and his band at the Skopje Jazz Festival will definitely be remembered as one of the best performances ever to be witnessed here. To the minds of those who heard them, Ornette Coleman and his group epitomized what jazz should be: pure and vibrant.

Photo Credit
Tzvetan Tzvetanov

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Jazztopad 2017: Concerts In Living Rooms Live Reviews Jazztopad 2017: Concerts In Living Rooms
by Martin Longley
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Lean On Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers @ NYC Winter Jazzfest Live Reviews Lean On Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers @ NYC...
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Carl Bartlett, Jr. at Jazz At Kitano Live Reviews Carl Bartlett, Jr. at Jazz At Kitano
by Keith Henry Brown
Published: January 13, 2018
Read Kurt Rosenwinkel at Chris’ Jazz Café Live Reviews Kurt Rosenwinkel at Chris’ Jazz Café
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: January 2, 2018
Read Terence Blanchard at Christ Church Cranbrook Live Reviews Terence Blanchard at Christ Church Cranbrook
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 29, 2017
Read "Alfa Jazz Fest 2017" Live Reviews Alfa Jazz Fest 2017
by Thomas Conrad
Published: July 11, 2017
Read "Grand Union Orchestra at Wilton's Music Hall" Live Reviews Grand Union Orchestra at Wilton's Music Hall
by Duncan Heining
Published: June 20, 2017
Read "Impressions of Monterey Jazz Festival 2017: MJF At 60" Live Reviews Impressions of Monterey Jazz Festival 2017: MJF At 60
by Walter Atkins
Published: October 6, 2017
Read "Green Man 2017" Live Reviews Green Man 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: November 11, 2017
Read "The Comet Is Coming at Black Box" Live Reviews The Comet Is Coming at Black Box
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 8, 2017