Ornette Coleman: Lonely Woman


Lonely Woman


Ornette Coleman (alto sax)


The Shape of Jazz to Come (Atlantic 1317)

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Ornette Coleman (alto sax), Don Cherry (cornet), Charlie Haden (bass), Billy Higgins (drums).

Composed by Ornette Coleman


Recorded: Radio Recorders, Hollywood, May 22, 1959


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

We still haven't come to grips with the turbulence unleashed by Free Jazz during the period that started with the Age of Ornette and roughly ended with the Arrival of Wynton. Critics will continue to debate the importance of this body of work. Nonetheless the day is past when anyone could release a recording called The Shape of Jazz to Come -- unless it was meant as a wry post-modern joke. No, this was not the shape of jazz to come, and what promised to be the final destination of the jazz idiom proved to be one more passing phase. But the best examples of the Free Jazz aesthetic continue to exert their power, and few are more potent than this early example of the Ornette Coleman quartet in full flight. Coleman's melody is haunting and his counterpoint with Don Cherry unforgettable. Haden's throbbing bass also contributes to the overall effect. Listening to this piece in 1959 must have been an unnerving experience, but after a half century of changing jazz fads and fashions it still will stir you up.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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  • 1 Coomers // Dec 26, 2008 at 05:07 PM
    This song has been diving and surfacing in my head for over a month. I have not experienced A DAY during which it didn't visit me at one point or another. OC's tapped into something in the human collective unconscious with this melody. Also, after having seen the MJQ perform it on a JAZZ CASUAL DVD (thank God it isn't one of the volumes where Gleason has the worst mustache in the history of music criticism), I sought out their album of the same title and OD'd on THEIR version--though they don't go for the famous cry Coleman looses near the end of the first "paragraph." And, still not satisfied, I checked out Old and New Dreams' cover and found it beautiful and frightening as well. I hope I have a chance to see him before he passes on.