Ornette Coleman “On Tenor” (1962)

Track Selection: “Eos”:


Don Cherry (pocket tp) Ornette Coleman (ts) Jimmy Garrison (b) Ed Blackwell (d) recorded NYC, March 22, 1961


More structured dissonace from Ornette, this time from 1962’s “On Tenor”, with regular Don Cherry on pocket trumpet, Jimmy Garrison bass and Ed Blackwell drums. The liner notes adopt the usual philosphical mode, trying to pin down in words what is happening in the music. This Atlantic clearly felt needed more explanation, unlike today’s wordless Post-music covers, which of course are self-explanatory (if you have worked out correctly who the band is). Coleman’s innovation is his emphasis on collective over solo improvisation. One for the jazz bohemians.

After an unseemly rush to aquire everything Mingus committed to record, I find Ornette Coleman needs more time to absorb, so a limited number of records is good. Somewhere out there I wait for an original pressing of “This is Our Music”, all in time.

Unlike most of his contemporaries, Coleman is still with us today, just. He is scheduled to be the closing headline act on 20th November at this years 2011 London Jazz Festival  at the Royal Festival Hall. Somewhere also on the bill is McCoy Tyner and Archie Shepp. For “Free Jazz”, it will probably be quite expensive.


By way of collector detail, the familiar Orange/Plum Atlantic 1960’s labels are a mismatch as the title is in Stereo, which for Atlantic are normally Blue/Green. The record store also had a mono copy, priced considerably higher. The music being a little experimental, I though I would experiment too, and went with Stereo for a change. It’s a different experience, not especially better or worse, just different. The sound-staging is effective, and pressing for UK license-agreement Polydor, I think around this time by Phillips, is the usual workman-like job, delivering good dynamic range and  lifelike presence of musicians in the room. Wish one could say the same ten years later.

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