Ornette Coleman: Airborne
Ornette Coleman (alto sax)
Love Call (Blue Note BST 84356)
Composed by Ornette Coleman.
Recorded: New York, April 29, 1968
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
"Airborne" is in many ways what listeners in the late '60s had come to expect from Ornette Coleman: a tuneful, sequentially ascending major-key melody that leads into a fast, swinging solo section based on an ambiguous tonality. What's different from his past music can be attributed to his choice of sidemen. Elvin Jones is far more aggressive than previous Coleman drummers. During Ornette's solo, Jones and the saxophonist are clearly equals—improvising in tandem, sharing the foreground while bassist Jimmy Garrison alternately breaks up the time and anchors the pulse. Tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman is a muscular soloist, his tone caustic and often overtone-laden; his exalted level of creativity and energy is on the same plane as the rhythm section's.
Love Call and its companion album, New York Is Now!, have often gotten short shrift from critics who can't seem to wrap their ears around the stylistic dissonance between these and earlier Coleman groups. Approached without preconceptions, however, it's hard to understand how this can be considered markedly inferior to any but a few items in Ornette's discography.
Reviewer: Chris Kelsey