Ornette Coleman: Klactoveesedstene




Ornette Coleman (alto sax)


Complete Live At The Hillcrest Club (Gambit 69272)

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Ornette Coleman (alto sax), Don Cherry (trumpet), Paul Bley (piano), Charlie Haden (bass), Billy Higgins (drums).

Composed by Charlie Parker


Recorded: Los Angeles, CA, October 1958


Rating: 83/100 (learn more)

Recorded during a club gig several months after the sessions for his first commercial recording as a leader (Something Else! on Contemporary Records), this track is a fascinating historical document of Coleman's experiments in stretching the parameters of conventional bebop-based jazz performance. It proves that in the case of Ornette, the origins of so-called free jazz represented more of an evolution than a revolution.

The group is the classic Coleman Quartet plus pianist Paul Bley, and here they explore a Charlie Parker line based on "Perdido" changes. They faithfully include Parker's original intro and tag, and though the horns play a wrong note in the second bar of the A sections, they play it with conviction and repeat it each time. Ornette's solo here should put to rest for good the accusations that he (a) discarded chord changes completely, and (b) couldn't play changes anyway. A striking feature of his solo is how much of Bird's language he used and how well he understood it. It reminds me of the parallel experience of noticing how much verbatim Lester Young was contained in Parker's early work.

Since this was obviously a bootleg recording done on less than ideal equipment, the sound leaves something to be desired, especially as it affects the piano, obviously not a vintage Steinway to begin with. Bley contributes an energetic solo that includes some angular a cappella passages, but it would have been interesting to hear his comping more clearly, as he has always been a player who can exert an enormous amount of harmonic and rhythmic influence over any group he plays in.

Reviewer: Kenny Berger

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