Ornette Coleman “Tomorrow is the Question” (1959)

Pictures upgraded April 15, 2020

Track Selection: “Tomorrow is the Question!”

.  .  .


Don Cherry, cornet; Ornette Coleman, alto sax; Red Mitchell, bass;  Shelly Manne, drums; recorded  Los Angeles, CA, January 16, 1959


Perhaps tame by future “free jazz” standards, but adventurous and uncompromising in its time. An inspiration to both up and coming and established players, Ornette pointed the way to a less predictable playing style, articulate and musical but branching away from the Bird-Coltrane-Rollins tradition, the essence of which seems to be a shift from “performing to please the audience” to “needing to express yourself”.  The line up includes Don Cherry, another early avant-guardist, on trumpet.

Seen here at the Nice Jazz Festival, live, 2010, Ornette Coleman

Vinyl: Vogue LAC 12228  UK release of Contemporary M 3569, Decca pressing

Contemporary Records both US and UK were pressed on heavy vinyl from excellently prepared masters and manufactured to exacting standards, delivering beautiful dynamic range.

By way of warning, much of the Contemporary catalogue has been reissued in recent years by anonymous pressing shops, on low quality digital to vinyl transfers. They are sonically inferior, pressed on wobble-board thin vinyl, but can otherwise look undistinguishable from period pressings (thick card jacket, facsimile liner notes). Always check the runout groove for a giveaway local job-code in addition to the original catalogue number.

Collector’s corner

This treat for the ears set me back £24 from Ebay, and had a number of bidders, as had the earlier Coleman from the same sellers connection, which pushed the envelope a little. But being in Ex/Ex condition made it a very satisfying addition to the collection


8 thoughts on “Ornette Coleman “Tomorrow is the Question” (1959)

  1. Pingback: Jazz for Modernists 2- Ornette Coleman (1930-2015) (Part 1) – The Regency Mod

  2. Pingback: Jazz for Modernists 2 – Ornette Coleman (1930-2015) (Part 1)

  3. Pingback: Improvisationen über Improvisation Einleitung Benjamin Schaefer Jazzzeitung Blog

  4. For me, Ornette is the big bridge between modern jazz and avant garde – one I can safely cross. Great record, great price, what’s not to like? You did well.

    It’s nice to have a Popsike record. I print out the ebay description and auction result to keep inside the cover, sort of like a birth certificate.That way I always know where it came from and what it cost.


  5. I need someone to beat my shoulder (my girlfriend won’t do!!!)….
    I’ve been after this record for a very long time.
    About one month ago I won a VERY LUCKY auction.
    I waited it to arrive before to have a party with you all….

    HERE I AM!!!!
    US Contemporary DG Mono Yellow Label, Cover/Vynil – EX/EX (my grading).


    This are auctions I like!!!! (and I can effort, in this hard times!!!!)

    About this album I love, I totally agree with dottorjazz when he says “From this point his music and Jazz, will be forever different.”


  6. It’s true, move slow but move. Free Jazz is a world represented by musicians who CAN play but also others who CAN’T.
    It was easy for them to play free when they couldn’t play at all.
    An example?
    Albert Ayler’s brother, Don.
    He picked up trumpet and in terms of months he was “playing” with Albert.
    Albert himself, in his first two records, among the rarest in the whole story of Jazz, could’t play at the time. You can hear him play standards, better trying to play. Embarassing.
    But he had an idea and took it forward in the few years he was on earth, becoming one of the most important musicians of the New Thing.
    There is another Ayler record which I consider unlistenable and is a spiritual album: I gave it away. Also the last Impulse albums, a sort of rockish music, aren’t interesting at all.
    Instead I love all the others.
    Archie Shepp, in his first performances with Cecil Taylor (Candid), isn’t interesting at all.
    But after 4 or 5 years he really changed his way to play, producing real masterpieces.
    He had to leave back what he could’t play and find a new way.


  7. Well, you’re beginning to explore the wild side of Jazz.
    This Coleman, his second on Contemporary, is different enough from the first, Something else which had a pianist, I think for the first and last time.
    Ornette was moving from hard bop to free jazz without knowing which way to run.
    You have themes here, at unison with Cherry, then solos, again the theme and coda.
    We see a clear structure in his first records until the fourth Atlantic, Free Jazz.
    From this point his music and Jazz, will be forever different.


    • I feel this is the way to go, but I don’t want to lose many of the “musical friends” I have made along the journey so far. So one step at a time. The great thing about jazz is there is so much to explore


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s