Ornette Coleman – The Atlantic Years (2018)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz  | Time – 6:46:36 minutes | 14,6 GB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: AcousticSounds | Front Cover | © Rhino Atlantic

Miles Davis had publicly called him a madman. Leonard Bernstein found him, for his part, completely awesome. Few were those that didn’t have a definitive opinion on Ornette Coleman. Some kind of outlaw who preferred playing his own compositions rather than jazz classics, the American saxophonist also developed harmolodics, a theory uniting harmonics and melody. This box of ten discs compiles one of the most important era in the career of his author. Between 1959 and 1961, he released six studio albums for the Atlantic label. Six albums that are present here and spiced up with alternative takes and various bonuses, all of this of course impeccably remastered by John Webber. Albums included: The Shape Of Jazz To Come (1959), Change Of The Century (1959), This Is Our Music (1960), Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation (1960), Ornette! (1961) and Ornette On Tenor (1961), and the compilations The Art Of Improvisers (1970), Twins (1971), To Whom Who Keeps A Record (1975) and The Ornette Coleman Legacy (1993).

On most of his Atlantic albums, Coleman recorded with a quartet that included trumpeter Don Cherry, plus either Charlie Haden or Scott LaFaro on bass, and either Billy Higgins or Ed Blackwell on drums. One notable exception is Free Jazz, a ground-breaking single-track album where Coleman led a double quartet through a nearly 40-minute collective improvisation. The stereo mix used for the album separates the quartets into different channels; one on the right and the other on the left. Coleman worked extensively with producer Nesuhi Ertegun on the music featured in this collection. Their partnership began in 1959 with Coleman’s Atlantic debut, The Shape of Jazz To Come, an album the Library of Congress added to its National Recording Registry in 2012.

Among the albums included in THE ATLANTIC YEARS are three compilations that Atlantic released in the 1970’s: The Art Of Improvisers (1970), Twins (1971), and To Whom Who Keeps A Record (1975.) These albums include outtakes from recording sessions for all six of Coleman’s studio albums.

Ornette Coleman – The Shape Of Jazz To Come (1959/2018)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 38:16 minutes | 1,32 GB
Studio Mono Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cove

Ornette Coleman’s Atlantic debut, The Shape of Jazz to Come, was a watershed event in the genesis of avant-garde jazz, profoundly steering its future course and throwing down a gauntlet that some still haven’t come to grips with. The record shattered traditional concepts of harmony in jazz, getting rid of not only the piano player but the whole idea of concretely outlined chord changes. The pieces here follow almost no predetermined harmonic structure, which allows Coleman and partner Don Cherry an unprecedented freedom to take the melodies of their solo lines wherever they felt like going in the moment, regardless of what the piece’s tonal center had seemed to be. Plus, this was the first time Coleman recorded with a rhythm section – bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Billy Higgins – that was loose and open-eared enough to follow his already controversial conception. Coleman’s ideals of freedom in jazz made him a feared radical in some quarters; there was much carping about his music flying off in all directions, with little direct relation to the original theme statements. If only those critics could have known how far out things would get in just a few short years; in hindsight, it’s hard to see just what the fuss was about, since this is an accessible, frequently swinging record. It’s true that Coleman’s piercing, wailing alto squeals and vocalized effects weren’t much beholden to conventional technique, and that his themes often followed unpredictable courses, and that the group’s improvisations were very free-associative. But at this point, Coleman’s desire for freedom was directly related to his sense of melody – which was free-flowing, yes, but still very melodic. Of the individual pieces, the haunting “Lonely Woman” is a stone-cold classic, and “Congeniality” and “Peace” aren’t far behind. Any understanding of jazz’s avant-garde should begin here.

Tracklist:
01 – Lonely Woman
02 – Eventually
03 – Peace
04 – Focus On Sanity
05 – Congeniality
06 – Chronology

Recorded on May 22, 1959.

Musicians:
Ornette Coleman – alto saxophone
Don Cherry – cornet
Charlie Haden – bass
Billy Higgins – drums

Ornette Coleman – Change Of The Century (1959/2018)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 41:26 minutes | 1,43 GB
Studio Mono Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cover

The second album by Ornette Coleman’s legendary quartet featuring Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, and Billy Higgins, Change of the Century is every bit the equal of the monumental The Shape of Jazz to Come, showcasing a group that was growing ever more confident in its revolutionary approach and the chemistry in the bandmembers’ interplay. When Coleman concentrates on melody, his main themes are catchier, and when the pieces emphasize group interaction, the improvisation is freer. Two of Coleman’s most memorable classic compositions are here in their original forms – “Ramblin’” has all the swing and swagger of the blues, and “Una Muy Bonita” is oddly disjointed, its theme stopping and starting in totally unexpected places; both secure their themes to stable, pedal-point bass figures. The more outside group improv pieces are frequently just as fascinating; “Free,” for example, features a double-tongued line that races up and down in free time before giving way to the ensemble’s totally spontaneous inventions. The title cut is a frantic, way-out mélange of cascading lines that nearly trip over themselves, brief stabs of notes in the lead voices, and jarringly angular intervals – it must have infuriated purists who couldn’t even stomach Coleman’s catchiest tunes. Coleman was frequently disparaged for not displaying the same mastery of instrumental technique and harmonic vocabulary as his predecessors, but his aesthetic prized feeling and expression above all that anyway. Maybe that’s why Change of the Century bursts with such tremendous urgency and exuberance – Coleman was hitting his stride and finally letting out all the ideas and emotions that had previously been constrained by tradition. That vitality makes it an absolutely essential purchase and, like The Shape of Jazz to Come, some of the most brilliant work of Coleman’s career.

Tracklist:
01 – Ramblin’
02 – Free
03 – The Face Of The Bass
04 – Forerunner
05 – Bird Food
06 – Una Muy Bonita
07 – Change Of The Century

Recorded on October 8 & 9, 1959.

Musicians:
Ornette Coleman – alto saxophone
Don Cherry – pocket trumpet
Charlie Haden – bass
Billy Higgins – drums

Ornette Coleman – This Is Our Music (1960/2018)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 39:04 minutes | 1,35 GB
Studio Mono Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cover

With two landmark albums already under its belt, the Ornette Coleman Quartet spent nearly a year out of the studio before reconvening for This Is Our Music. This time, Billy Higgins is replaced on drums by Ed Blackwell, who has a similar knack for anticipating the ensemble’s direction, and proves a more fiery presence on tracks like “Kaleidoscope” and “Folk Tale.” The session is also notable for containing the only standard (or, for that matter, the only non-original) Coleman recorded during his tenure with Atlantic – Gershwin’s “Embraceable You,” which is given a lyrical interpretation and even a rather old-time, sentimental intro (which may or may not be sarcastic, but really is pretty). In general, though, Coleman disapproved of giving up his own voice and viewed standards as concessions to popular taste; as the unapologetic title of the album makes clear, he wanted to be taken (or left) on his own terms. And that word “our” also makes clear just how important the concept of group improvisation was to Coleman’s goals. Anyone can improvise whenever he feels like it, and the players share such empathy that each knows how to add to the feeling of the ensemble without undermining its egalitarian sense of give and take. Their stark, thin textures were highly distinctive, and both Coleman and Cherry chose instruments (respectively, an alto made of plastic rather than brass and a pocket trumpet or cornet instead of a standard trumpet) to accentuate that quality. It’s all showcased to best effect here on the hard-swinging “Blues Connotation” and the haunting “Beauty Is a Rare Thing,” though pretty much every composition has something to recommend it. All in all, This Is Our Music keeps one of the hottest creative streaks in jazz history going strong.

Tracklist:
01 – Blues Connotation
02 – Beauty Is A Rare Thing
03 – Kaleidoscope
04 – Embraceable You
05 – Poise
06 – Humpty Dumpty
07 – Folk Tale

Recorded on July 19, 26 & August 2, 1960

Musicians:
Ornette Coleman – alto saxophone
Don Cherry – pocket trumpet
Charlie Haden – bass
Ed Blackwell – drums

Ornette Coleman – Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation (1960/2018)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 36:55 minutes | 1,44 GB
Studio Mono Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cover

As jazz’s first extended, continuous free improvisation LP, Free Jazz practically defies superlatives in its historical importance. Ornette Coleman’s music had already been tagged “free,” but this album took the term to a whole new level. Aside from a predetermined order of featured soloists and several brief transition signals cued by Coleman, the entire piece was created spontaneously, right on the spot. The lineup was expanded to a double-quartet format, split into one quartet for each stereo channel: Ornette, trumpeter Don Cherry, bassist Scott LaFaro, and drummer Billy Higgins on the left; trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, bass clarinetist Eric Dolphy, bassist Charlie Haden, and drummer Ed Blackwell on the right. The rhythm sections all play at once, anchoring the whole improvisation with a steady, driving pulse. The six spotlight sections feature each horn in turn, plus a bass duet and drum duet; the “soloists” are really leading dialogues, where the other instruments are free to support, push, or punctuate the featured player’s lines. Since there was no road map for this kind of recording, each player simply brought his already established style to the table. That means there are still elements of convention and melody in the individual voices, which makes Free Jazz far more accessible than the efforts that followed once more of the jazz world caught up. Still, the album was enormously controversial in its bare-bones structure and lack of repeated themes. Despite resembling the abstract painting on the cover, it wasn’t quite as radical as it seemed; the concept of collective improvisation actually had deep roots in jazz history, going all the way back to the freewheeling early Dixieland ensembles of New Orleans. Jazz had long prided itself on reflecting American freedom and democracy and, with Free Jazz, Coleman simply took those ideals to the next level. A staggering achievement.

Tracklist:
01 – Free Jazz (Part 1)
02 – Free Jazz (Part 2)

Recorded on December 21, 1960.

Musicians
Left channel:
Ornette Coleman – alto saxophone
Don Cherry – pocket trumpet
Scott LaFaro – bass
Billy Higgins – drums
Right channel:
Eric Dolphy – bass clarinet
Freddie Hubbard – trumpet
Charlie Haden – bass
Ed Blackwell – drums

Ornette Coleman – Ornette! (1961/2018)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 43:51 minutes | 1,59 GB
Studio Mono Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cover

Recorded a little over a month after his groundbreaking work Free Jazz, this album found Coleman perhaps retrenching from that idea conceptually, but nonetheless plumbing his quartet music to ever greater heights of richness and creativity. Ornette! was the first time bassist Scott LaFaro recorded with Coleman, and the difference in approach between LaFaro and Charlie Haden is apparent from the opening notes of “W.R.U.” There is a more direct propulsion and limberness to his playing, and he can be heard driving Coleman and Don Cherry actively and more aggressively than Haden’s warm, languid phrasing. The cuts, with titles derived from the works of Sigmund Freud, are all gems and serve as wonderful launching pads for the musicians’ improvisations. Coleman, by this time, was very comfortable in extended pieces, and he and his partners have no trouble filling in the time, never coming close to running out of ideas. Special mention should be made of Ed Blackwell, with one of his finest performances. Ornette! is a superb release and a must for all fans of Coleman and creative improvised music in general.

Tracklist:
01 – WRU
02 – T & T
03 – C & D
04 – RPDD

Recorded on January 31, 1961.

Musicians:
Ornette Coleman – alto saxophone
Don Cherry – pocket trumpet
Scott LaFaro – bass
Ed Blackwell – drums

Ornette Coleman – Ornette On Tenor (1961/2018)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 41:08 minutes | 1,57 GB
Studio Mono Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cover

It’s an understatement to say that Ornette Coleman’s stint with Atlantic altered the jazz world forever, and Ornette on Tenor was the last of his six LPs (not counting outtakes compilations) for the label, wrapping up one of the most controversial and free-thinking series of recordings in jazz history. Actually, it’s probably his least stunning Atlantic, not quite as revolutionary or memorable as many of its predecessors, but still far ahead of its time. Coleman hadn’t played much tenor since a group of Louisiana thugs beat him and destroyed his instrument, but he hadn’t lost his affection for the tenor’s soulful, expressive honk and the ease with which people connected with it. That rationale might suggest a more musically accessible session, but that isn’t the case. Ornette on Tenor is just as challenging and harmonically advanced as any of his previous Atlantics. In fact, it’s arguably more so, since there aren’t really any memorable themes to return to. That means there are fewer opportunities for Coleman and Don Cherry to interact and harmonize, which puts the focus mainly on Coleman’s return to tenor playing. And, actually, it isn’t tremendously different from his alto playing. There are a few traces of Coleman’s early Texas gutbucket R&B days, plus a few spots where he explores a breathier tone, but for the most part his spiraling solo lines are very similar to his other Atlantic albums, and his upper-register sound is often a dead ringer for his plaintive alto cries. With Coleman ostensibly exploring new territory, it’s hard not to be a little disappointed that Ornette on Tenor doesn’t have the boundary-shattering impact of his previous work – but then again, it’s probably asking too much to expect a revolution every time out.

Tracklist:
01 – Cross Breeding
02 – Mapa
03 – Enfant
04 – EOS
05 – Ecars

Recorded on March 22 & 27, 1961.

Musicians:
Ornette Coleman – tenor saxophone
Don Cherry – pocket trumpet
Jimmy Garrison – bass
Ed Blackwell – drums

Ornette Coleman – The Art Of Improvisers (1970/2018)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 45:21 minutes | 1,59 GB
Studio Mono Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cover

Like many of Ornette Coleman’s Atlantic sides, The Art of the Improvisers was recorded in numerous sessions from 1959-1961 and assembled for the purpose of creating a cohesive recorded statement. Its opening track, “The Circle with the Hole in the Middle,” from 1959, with the classic quartet of Don Cherry, Ed Blackwell, and Charlie Haden, is one of Coleman’s recognizable pieces of music. Essentially, the band is that quartet with two very notable exceptions: The last tracks on each side feature a different bass player. On the end of side one, the great Scott LaFaro weighs in on “The Alchemy of Scott La Faro,” and Jimmy Garrison weighs in on “Harlem’s Manhattan” to close the album out. These last two sessions were recorded early in 1961, in January and March respectively. As an album, The Art of the Improvisers is usually undervalued when placed next to This Is Our Music or The Shape of Jazz to Come. This is a mistake in that some of Coleman’s most deeply lyrical harmonic structures reside here in tracks such as “Just for You,” with literally stunning intervallic interplay between him and Cherry from the middle to the end. The track also messes with standard blues form and comes up in a modal way without seemingly intending to. The set roars into “The Fifth of Beethoven,” which collapses a series of flatted fifths around Haden and Cherry, and Coleman goes on a Texas blues spree in his solo, dancing all around them. “The Alchemy of Scott La Faro” must have pissed off the hard boppers like nothing else. Here is a straining sprint that the quartet takes in stride as LaFaro and Blackwell charge around the edges in frightening time signatures. Coleman and Cherry for the most part clamor around a B flat-C sharp major figure and run circles around each other in muscular fashion as LaFaro goes pizzicato to head with Coleman in the middle, turning the saxophonist’s phrases into rhythmic structures which Blackwell accents as if cued. But he’s not; this is invented on the spot. Coleman’s deep lyricism shines through despite the tempo, and the entire thing goes out in a blaze of light. “The Legend of Bebop” is a jazz history lesson with the band working out on the front line, quoting from Sidney Bechet and Louis Armstrong, moving through some Ellingtonian themes, and slipping around the corner to a slow, blued-out bebop before taking off in consonant solos and counterpoint. “Harlem’s Manhattan,” with Garrison in Haden’s bass chair, begins with a quote right from Parker and Gillespie before challenging the framework of the blues and its tempos. Blackwell is a blur of the dance, his cymbal work against Garrison’s punctuated accents make Coleman’s and Cherry’s jobs knotty and difficult, but always rooted in the melody that blues inspires. This is basically one of Coleman’s most uptempo records for Atlantic, but also one of his most soulful. It deserves serious re-evaluation.

Tracklist:
01 – The Circle With A Hole In The Middle (Recorded on October 9, 1959)
02 – Just For You (Recorded on May 22, 1959)
03 – The Fifth Of Beethoven (Recorded on July 26, 1960)
04 – The Alchemy Of Scott Lafaro (Recorded on January 31, 1961)
05 – Moon Inhabitants (Recorded on July 26, 1960)
06 – The Legend Of Bebop (Recorded on July 26, 1960)
07 – Harlem’s Manhattan (Recorded on March 27, 1961)

Musicians:
Ornette Coleman – alto saxophone; tenor saxophone on “Harlem’s Manhattan”
Don Cherry – pocket trumpet; cornet on “Just for You”
Charlie Haden – bass on 1959 and 1960 tracks
Scott LaFaro – bass on “The Alchemy of Scott LaFaro”
Jimmy Garrison – bass on “Harlem’s Manhattan”
Billy Higgins – drums on 1959 tracks
Ed Blackwell – drums on 1960 and 1961 tracks

Ornette Coleman – Twins (1971/2018)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 43:25 minutes | 1,76 GB
Studio Mono Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cover

Ornette Coleman’s Twins (first issued on LP in 1971) has been looked at as an afterthought in many respects. A collection of sessions from 1959, 1960, and 1961 with different bands, they are allegedly takes from vinyl LP sessions commercially limited at that time to 40 minutes on vinyl, and not initially released until many years later. Connoisseurs consider this one of his better recordings in that it offers an overview of what Coleman was thinking in those pivotal years of the free bop movement rather than the concentrated efforts of The Art of the Improvisers, Change of the Century, The Shape of Jazz to Come, This Is Our Music, and of course the pivotal Free Jazz. There are three most definitive selections that define Coleman’s sound and concept. “Monk & the Nun” is angular like Thelonious Monk, soulful as spiritualism, and golden with the rhythm team of bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Billy Higgins driving the sweet and sour alto sax of Coleman and piquant trumpeting of Don Cherry. “Check Up” is a wild roller coaster ride, mixing meters, tempos, and dynamics in a blender in an unforgettable display of sheer virtuosity, and featuring bassist Scott LaFaro. “Joy of a Toy” displays the playful Ornette Coleman in interval leaps, complicated bungee jumps, in many ways whimsical but not undecipherable. It is one of the most intriguing of all of Coleman’s compositions. Less essential, “First Take” showcases his double quartet in a churning composition left off the original release This Is Our Music, loaded with interplay as a showcase for a precocious young trumpeter named Freddie Hubbard, the ribald bass clarinet of Eric Dolphy, and the first appearance with Coleman’s groups for New Orleans drummer Ed Blackwell. “Little Symphony” has a great written line with room for solos in a joyful hard bop center with the quartet of Coleman, Cherry, Haden, and Blackwell. All in all an excellent outing for Coleman from a hodgepodge of recordings that gives a broader view of his vision and the music that would come later in the ’60s.

Tracklist:
01 – First Take (Recorded on December 21, 1960)
02 – Little Symphony (Recorded on July 19, 1960)
03 – Monk And The Nun (Recorded on May 22, 1959)
04 – Check Up (Recorded on January 31, 1961)
05 – Joy Of A Toy (Recorded on July 26, 1960)

Musicians:
Ornette Coleman – alto saxophone
Don Cherry – pocket trumpet; cornet on “Monk and the Nun”
Charlie Haden – bass on 1959 and 1960 tracks
Scott LaFaro – bass on “First Take” and “Check Up”
Billy Higgins – drums on “First Take” and “Monk and the Nun”
Ed Blackwell – drums on 1960 and 1961 tracks
Freddie Hubbard – trumpet on “First Take”
Eric Dolphy – bass clarinet on “First Take”

Ornette Coleman – To Whom Who Keeps A Record (1975/2018)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 40:18 minutes | 1,3 GB
Studio Mono Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cover

To Whom Who Keeps a Record is a compilation album credited to jazz composer and saxophonist Ornette Coleman, released by the Japanese subsidiary Warner Pioneer of Warner Bros. Records in 1975. The album was assembled without Coleman’s input, comprising outtakes from Atlantic Records recording sessions of 1959 and 1960 for Change of the Century and This Is Our Music. Sessions for “Music Always” took place at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, California; all others at Atlantic Studios in New York City. The track titles spell out ‘music always brings goodness to us all, p.s. unless one has some other motive for its use.’

Tracklist:
01 – Music Always (Recorded on October 8, 1959)
02 – Brings Goodness (Recorded on July 26, 1960)
03 – To Us (Recorded on July 26, 1960)
04 – All (Recorded on July 26, 1960)
05 – P.S. Unless One Has (Blues Connotation # 2) [Recorded on July 19, 1960]
06 – Some Other (Recorded on July 26, 1960)
07 – Motive For Its Use (Recorded on July 26, 1960)

Musicians:
Ornette Coleman – alto saxophone
Don Cherry – pocket trumpet
Charlie Haden – bass
Billy Higgins – drums on “Music Always”
Ed Blackwell – drums on 1960 tracks

Ornette Coleman – The Ornette Coleman Legacy (1993/2018)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 36:52 minutes | 1,29 GB
Studio Mono Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cover

The Ornette Coleman Legacy, featuring six songs originally released for the first time in 1993 as part of Rhino’s CD boxed set “Beauty Is A Rare Thing”.

Tracklist:
01 – Rise And Shine
02 – The Tribes Of New York
03 – I Heard It Over The Radio
04 – Revolving Doors
05 – Mr. And Mrs. People
06 – Proof Readers

Recorded in 1959-1961.

Musicians:
Ornette Coleman – alto saxophone, tenor saxophone
Don Cherry – pocket trumpet
Charlie Haden – bass
Ed Blackwell – drums

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