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February 18, 2011

"At the 'Golden Circle', Stockholm" - Ornette Coleman

Last weekend I was invited to record an Object Story (like them on Facebook) at the Portland Art Museum. This is a great project that allows anyone to come in and share something that has a great story (or anything with an interesting personal attachment/history). Naturally when I did mine, improvising for short clips at a time, I left things out I meant to say and said things that weren't necessary. All in all, it was great excuse to talk about my autographed original issued Blue Note of Ornette Coleman's At the 'Golden Circle', Stockholm, Volume 2.

This dual volume Blue Note has to be one of the main reasons that I'm into avant-garde Jazz and why I have looked to Mr. Coleman as my shining light towards more great Jazz and modern concepts. I hadn't obtained these volumes until after a few years of heavy Jazz listening. I remember, when I first started collecting Jazz records I saw both volumes at Rhino Records in upstate New York. That was the first time I became aware of the name Ornette Coleman. The Reid Miles cover design really stood out. Three individuals in the foreground; behind them the desolate, white, stark looking winter woods of Scandinavia. With colorful, contrasting text that wrapped around their bodies. The cover artwork really burned into my mind. I didn't buy the albums, which might of been ok since my novice ears probably weren't ready for this trio's sound.
Fast forward about two to three years, and I'm starting to listen to Ornette's Atlantic sessions. As I'm pulled more into his trance I am able to win an eBay auction obtaining both volumes of At the 'Golden Circle'. Volume 1 a Liberty reissue, and Volume 2 an original pressing. Fast forward another year or so, and I get to meet Ornette Coleman at the 2008 Portland Jazz Festival, resulting in his signature adorning the original issued volume 2.

Every year Frank Wolff vacationed to Europe, which resulted in many sessions that were captured across the pond. This particular 1965 December brought him to frigid Stockholm. To a small cafe, called the Gyllene Cirkeln where Coleman's Trio was performing on the third and fourth of the month. You'll have to remember that 1965 was Coleman's returning year from his three year hiatus to recording. Returning with new violin and trumpet chops fresh for listeners' ears. David Izenzon and Charles Moffett made the best backdrop for him here. Of course, it's had not to compare them to Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell, but they swung, they played deep riveting lines, and completely allowed Coleman's melodic alto to shine.

Anyway, doing the Object Story was a great excuse to revisit this duo of albums. And I highly encourage anyone interested in Ornette to get these recordings and listen to them on repeat. It's quite the transitional sound in Coleman's career. Not as boogie-ing and whimsical as his early stuff, a bit more contemplative for a contemplative European audience and just as gripping.
1965 Recorded, 1966 Released - Blue Note.
Ornette Coleman - alto saxophone, violin, trumpet; David Izenzon - bass; Charles Moffett - drums.

European Echos
from Volume 1

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