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February 18, 2008

"Broken Shadows" - Ornette Coleman

Coleman produces some great sets with his brief columbia sessions. Science Fiction, has more of a space-y and electronic aesthetic, where as Broken Shadows is more reminiscent of the Atlantic recordings but perhaps a bit more aggressive.

Besides the aggressiveness, you get all the boogie and swinging and positivity you’d expect. Tracks like “School Work” leave dancing melodies in your head (he has used this melody numerous of times in other compositions). Don Cherry plays at such a great level on these recordings and complements Ornette so well as he always does. Also accompanied is Bobby Bradford which makes an interesting variation to Cherry, and we also hear a strong tone difference of Dewey Redman against Coleman. Higgins and Blackwell are shown playing together making heavy rhythms and flooding sheets of percussion.

The last two tracks have Webster Armstrong joining the group singing some blues. The exciting juxtaposition of the harmolodics and vocals is like a wonderful roller-coaster filled with expression, feeling, and soul.

1972 - Columbia.

Ornette Coleman - Alto Sax; Don Cherry - Pocket Trumpet; Dewey Redman - Tenor Sax; Bobby Bradford - Trumpet,Charlie Haden - Bass, Billy Higgins - Drums, Ed Blackwell - Drums; Jim Hall - Guitar, Cedar Walton - Piano,Webster Armstrong - Vocals.

In spirit of Ornette, I’d like to talk about the PDX Jazz Festival. Not only did I get to see him perform, I saw a conversation with him and his son Denardo hosted by Howard Mandel (author Miles, Ornette, and Cecil: Jazz Beyond Jazz); at which I was able to shake Ornette’s hand and have him sign my Blue Note LP. “Only Thinking about improving the idea,” was the very first comment by him. And he continued to express his thoughts about sound, life, knowledge, sex... Everything! Always remaining in the most positive attitude and keeping a smile on his face.

Now from my understanding, all of the educational programs hosted by the festival were recorded and will eventually be available through KMHD. This one is worth checking out.

Later that night (to top off one of the best days in my life), I went and saw Coleman at the Schnitzer. Man, it was unbelievable. It was so transcendental and sublime, I spent most of the show with my eyes closed tapping my feet. Throughout the performance, melodies from classic compositions were mixed in. Like, “School Work”, “Beauty Is a Rare Thing”, “Lonely Woman”, “Turnabout”, and “Morning Song”. I feel privileged seeing how it has been 25 years since the last time Coleman played in Portland and perhaps one of the last.

February 10, 2008

"Reflections" - Steve Lacy

I think this is one of the finest, individualistic interpretations of Thelonious Monk tunes that I have heard.  You can tell Lacy really understood how to translate his melodies and work them with just the right amount of dissonance and tension; and when and when not to apply it.  The rhythm company performs top notch and Mal Waldron seems to fit in well with Neidlinger and can anyone honestly think of any time when they didn't enjoy hearing Elvin Jones.  

My favorite is "Hornin' In."  Waldron starts off with this vamping and then after the first bar or so Lacy steps in with his wonderfully pitched horn.  The way he plays his solos it seems like many horn players were trying to mimic five years later.  Waldron's phrasing seems spot on and the harmonies between him and Lacy are out of this world.

This is an album I could consistently listen to for the rest of my life.     
1958 - Contemporary.

Steve Lacy - Sax (Soprano); Mal Waldron - Piano; Buell Neidlinger - Bass; Elvin Jones - Drums.

February 1, 2008

"Out To Lunch" - Eric Dolphy

Out to lunch is a beautiful album.  Whenever I hear Dolphy I truly understand the ideas in his head and the dialect he's trying to make with his horn.  Anyway, this album cooks.  Everyone plays at such a high level, it's no wonder why so many refer to the album as the best of the era, the best Blue Note, the best of the avant-garde, or even some say one of the best jazz albums period.  The cuts have these whimsical aspects to them, but enough emotions and definitely the blues remains so that anything meaningful still exists.  Tony Williams, I think, is only 18 years old here, and he has already shown his prominence as a common drummer on many Blue Note dates and many to follow.  

It seems every time Dolphy plays, it's the last chance he'll ever have to play.  You can really here his passion in his recordings, and it's amazing how many ideas you can hear come out of one solo by him; and they're all so coherent and just right on.  Richard Davis responds well and also is excellent at guiding Dolphy, and Williams always knows what to hit and what to omit every time.  

I'll leave you with a link to this wonderful article by Milo Miles.
1964 - Blue Note.

Freddie Hubbard - Trumpet; Eric Dolphy - Sax (Alto), Flute, Bass Clarinet; Bobby Hutcherson - Vibes; Richard Davis - Bass; Anthony Williams - Drums.