1000 JAZZ ALBUMS YOU REALLY OUGHT TO HEAR – 0002 : ORNETTE COLEMAN QUARTET & PRIME TIME – IN ALL LANGUAGES

Caravan of Dreams/Harmolodic

1987

Disc 1/Sides A and B (the Quartet)

Ornette Coleman – alto and tenor saxophone
Don Cherry – trumpet
Charlie Haden – double bass
Billy Higgins – drums

Disc 2/Sides C and D (Prime Time)

Ornette Coleman – saxophone and trumpet
Denardo Coleman – drums
Calvin Weston – drums
Jamaaladeen Tacuma – bass guitar
Al MacDowell – bass guitar
Charlie Ellerbee – electric guitar
Bernie Nix – electric Guitar

A historical document of some importance. Ornette uses his original quartet to revisit the sound of the late 50s the gave him his first breakthrough but uses contemporary material.  This means the avant garde aspects of the playing is juxtaposed with the extant harmolodic funk approach. This makes for an exceptional clash of styles.

The second half of the release was Ornette’s  current “double” band (two drums, two basses, two guitars) playing seven of the compositions that appear on the first half. This allows the listener to see how his approach has developed over the intervening 30 years.

The music is kept short and this allows, a rare thing in jazz,  the melodies and themes to stand in their own right and also demonstrate the power of Ornette’s writing.  The difference between the two discs is clear. The quartet has the space to work together, and apart, and recreate the magical bond that emerged in 1958.  Prime Time is denser and convoluted, not surprising given the number of musicians involved, a heady brew of interacting lines and rhythms that create a huge tension. The Quartet playfully caresses your ears whereas Prime Time slaps you around the head and get you up and dancing.

As a primer for  Ornette this is the perfect album, demonstrating where he came from and where he had got to in the mid 80s.

 

IAl

 

 

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