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January 18, 2008

"Ornette: Made In America" - Ornette Coleman

Wednesday night, as part of the Reel Music Fest, Ornette: Made In America was shown at the Portland Art Museum. I have seen clips of this film on youtube, and as I had a prior glimpse of its production style, I still didn't know what to expect. The film started in 1983 in Ft. Worth, Texas where a ceremony is being held to make an official Ornette Coleman Holiday in the city, where Coleman was also handed the key of the city.

The film furthered with various interactions of Ornette with his son, old friends from Ft. Worth, colleagues and musicians. We saw him telling stories of his past, and montages of him performing live at clubs and events. With sort of a Warhol-esq editing style, it definitely had its psychedelic moments.

My favorite part was when there was clips from 1968 where Coleman was jamming w/ his son (age 12 at the time) and Charlie Haden. From the editing, I couldn't tell if the music was directly taken from the footage, and I can't help to wonder if it was from the Blue Note session for "The Empty Foxhole." Since the CD is out of print, I have been holding out for a Liberty pressing of this on vinyl, so I haven't heard these recordings. There was one segment where young Denardo was playing single rhythmic snare hits, while Haden was walking high on the bass' neck, and Ornette was playing so melodically with such beautiful lyricism. Then, completely randomly, Denardo would unleash these chaotic blast beats, but only for a few moments before returning to his single snare. This is great foreshadowing for me for these recordings.

The movie was really fun, I loved learning about Colemans concepts about his music. For example, him comparing Religions on an emotional level and his music on a creative level and how that intertwines, or the idea of intuitive intelligence as a third world technology.
1985, Directed by Shirley Clark

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