Track Selection: “Lonely Woman” >
Don Cherry (cor) Ornette Coleman (as) Charlie Haden (b) Billy Higgins (d) recorded Los Angeles, CA, May 22, 1959
Lonley Woman is possibly one of Ornette’s most iconic and musically accessible pieces, and unsuprisingly was the highlight of his recent appearance on the stage of the London 2011 Jazz Festival.
“The Future” was a recurrent theme in the early to mid-Sixties, in jazz as in art, film, automotive design and popular science writing of the day. In the Sixties, The Future was a place of boundless optimism, and not the apocalyptic dysfunctional vision of the future today. The tradition of Bop was destined to move on, but pulled in different directions: Soul Jazz cooking on the Hammond B3 organ, the School of Cool with the downbeat moody late night sound of the City, the traditionalist swinging Post-Bop often refreshed with mixed Latin or African influences, and the angry expressionism of the Avant Garde and Free Jazz.
Ornette perhaps more than anyone signposted the “future” as self-expression by jazz musicians, music for listening rather than dancing, musician as artist rather than entertainer. “Shape of Jazz to Come” fits perfectly with this direction of travel, with some adventurous unconventional though not anarchic playing. Haden’s acoustic bass explores the musical potential of this freedom while Billy Higgin provides a percussive third point of reference to this future direction of jazz.
Interesting and stimulating, an antidote to the formulaic structures that came before. And the hegemony of popular formulas in the decades that followed. Unique times.
Vinyl Atlantic 587022 (UK 1966)
Original US release as Atlantic 1317 (1959) this press is the first UK release, on orange/plum labels (black fan) attributed on the label as a 1966 pressing for Polydor. Usually this would have been released earlier on London label pressed by Decca, but for some reason it postdates the distribution change by Atlantic to Polydor. Pressing plant not known. The Polydor Group matrix number style and appearance bears similarities to Phillips but omits the usual country code identifier and in this case it is located at 6 o’clock not Phillips usual 10 o’clock position. It adopts A and B in place of 1F/ 2F side designation.
Sixties Atlantic plum/orange are reliable quality vinyl listening.