269

Ornette Coleman: Sound Grammar

Clifford Allen By

Sign in to view read count
Ornette Coleman: Sound Grammar It's been a decade since the last bounty of Ornette recordings. 1995-96 saw releases from his free-funk mélange Prime Time; a robust quartet with pianist Geri Allen and bassist Charnett Moffett; and duets with pianist Joachim Kühn, a German free music architect. Indeed, the past three decades have seen an inordinate amount of change for Coleman's groups, and though the fundamentals of his music may remain basically untouched, their aesthetic presence and reach seemed, for a while, to be apples in the next orchard. So it might seem somewhat surprising to see a format Ornette used in the late '60s and early '70s returning on Sound Grammar — his own alto, violin and trumpet, two contrabassists (one exclusively arco, one exclusively pizzicato), and percussion.

Recorded live in concert in Ludwigshafen, Germany in October 2005, Ornette is joined by his regular partner, drummer Denardo Coleman (looks like the "airmail express has worked to both their advantage), and bassists Tony Falanga and Greg Cohen. They perform eight originals, including two classics, "Turnaround and "Song X. From "Lonely Woman onward, Ornette Coleman has certainly shown a preoccupation with time; pluralities of tempo place creative activity firmly in the direct present, rather than moving toward resolution, making one hyper-aware of oneself in the eternal now (to reference Don Cherry).

An example of this aural "presentness" is Ornette's use of two bassists in subtle opposition to one another, one bowing dusky horn-like lines in melodic conversation with his alto or playing dervish-like underneath, the other turning rhythmic anchor into melody. Falanga and Cohen are somewhat reminiscent of the David Izenzon/Charlie Haden duo that Coleman employed ca. 1968-70. Like Falanga, Izenzon was a classically-trained bassist who tended to stick to the high register, bowing contrapuntal lines somewhere between Coleman's trilling vocalizations and the unrelenting drum choruses.

As Free Jazz was a double quartet, Sound Grammar is in a sense a double duet. Ornette and Falanga stitch a discourse of joy and sorrow, keening poems of timeless cries and ebullient child-song, as Cohen and Denardo swirl about, dissecting galloping funk into sea-swells of contrasting rhythm. But as with Jackson Pollock, an overlapping of gestures and contrasting lines creates its own rhythmic flow; what at first may seem a visual assault becomes a meditation on action and experience. Ornette Coleman is a master at feeding collectivity and plurality—grammar and language, after all, never result from the one, but from the many.


Track Listing: Intro; Jordan; Sleep Talking; Turnaround; Matador; Waiting for You; Call to Duty; Once Only; Song X.

Personnel: Ornette Coleman: alto saxophone, trumpet, violin; Tony Falanga, bass; Greg Cohen, bass; Denardo Coleman, drums.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Sound Grammar | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "The Magical Forest" CD/LP/Track Review The Magical Forest
by John Kelman
Published: August 4, 2016
Read "A Secret Sigh" CD/LP/Track Review A Secret Sigh
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 21, 2016
Read "Pulsation" CD/LP/Track Review Pulsation
by Nicola Negri
Published: August 1, 2016
Read "Rhythm and Romance" CD/LP/Track Review Rhythm and Romance
by Jeff Winbush
Published: August 12, 2016
Read "A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke" CD/LP/Track Review A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 6, 2016
Read "All The Dreams" CD/LP/Track Review All The Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 12, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!