Ornette Coleman “Tomorrow is the Question” (1959)

Track Selection: “Tomorrow is the Question!”


Don Cherry (cor) Ornette Coleman (as) Red Mitchell (b) Shelly Manne (d) 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.