Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

315

Ornette Coleman: Something Else!!!! - The Music Of Ornette Coleman

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Here it is: Ornette's first recording, containing his most conventional compositions, one ("The Blessing") written in 1951. Even so, it came only after a long period of struggle ("...most musicians didn't take to me; they said I didn't know the changes and was out of tune.") He was an elevator operator in an L.A. department store; he'd take the elevator to the top floor and practice for hours. He was about to return to Forth Worth when Red Mitchell heard a tune of his; it led to an audition and two albums for Contemporary, of which this is the first. It was a signpost, leading to a pathbreaking career.

Two things should be done when hearing this: you should remember Ornette's horn is plastic, and you should forget his later work. His tone sounds a little muffled, mushy perhaps; it has little of the sharp ringing tone of altos like Cannonball or Art Pepper. Don Cherry, the trumpeter heard on much of his work, says "it has a drier, warmer sound without the ping of the metal...He can now express on his horn what he hears, and he has a very unusual ear." Admittedly, the plastic tone sounds funny to these ears, though it does contribute to the feel of this record.

These are also early compositions, using chords, which he would soon abandon on his Atlantic sides. Those wanting free jazz will have to look elsewhere. There are moments of dissonance here (in the theme of "The Disguise"), but this is largely a straight-ahead date, with the corners slightly askew. There is much worth hearing here, especially the compositions, which received the bulk of the praise when this was originally released. My favorite tunes here would be "The Blessing" and "The Disguise"; "Alpha" and "The Sphinx" are also worth mention. Don Cherry has several fine moments and possibly takes instrumental honors. He has a good muted solo on "The Blessing", and strong moments on "Jayne" and "Chippie". Ornette's best solo comes on "When Will the Blues Leave?" and "The Sphinx". While totally competent, the rhythm section (especially Walter Norris on piano) seems to be a strict mainstream vein, and perhaps more avant-garde players would have gotten more out of these tunes. (Norris gets a few solos, but none really stand out.) As played, only the horns command attention, which is just as well, considering it's Ornette's show, and that of his tunes.

Where did this record lead? Not far, at least at the moment. A follow-up album, TOMORROW IS THE QUESTION!, was made in 1959, but jobs were still scarce. He moved to New York and signed with Atlantic, resulting in the albums which remain the basis of his reputation. This record was a foot in the door; the big noise (and big it was) would come later.


Title: Something Else!!!! - The Music Of Ornette Coleman | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Fantasy Jazz

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Bound CD/LP/Track Review Not Bound
by Don Phipps
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Journey to a New World CD/LP/Track Review Journey to a New World
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 21, 2018
Read "Town And Country" CD/LP/Track Review Town And Country
by Jerome Wilson
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "Das Wohltemperierte Akkordeon" CD/LP/Track Review Das Wohltemperierte Akkordeon
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 12, 2017
Read "Whispers on the Wind" CD/LP/Track Review Whispers on the Wind
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 23, 2017
Read "Codex" CD/LP/Track Review Codex
by Doug Collette
Published: December 3, 2017
Read "Sooner And Later" CD/LP/Track Review Sooner And Later
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 4, 2017
Read "Standards" CD/LP/Track Review Standards
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 16, 2017