Ornette Coleman “Art of the Improvisers” (1971)

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Don Cherry (cor) Ornette Coleman (as) Charlie Haden (b) Billy Higgins (d) Los Angeles, CA, May 22, 1959


Culled from sessions in 1959-61 and released ten years later, “The Art of the Improvisers” sits neatly along side the Ornette Coleman  albums released around 1960, all still acheiving cult status with modern jazz bohemians. More musical than you might at first think for “free jazz”, Coleman nevertheless sought comparison with “drip-school” artist Jackson Pollock and Abstract Expressionism. The abstract cover is his own painting, which gives some substance to his link between Art and Music. However it remains true that many  people who “get” abstract art have difficulty with abstract music, which falls outside their comfort zone.


The record is the original Atlantic US Stereo pressing from 1971  Normally I prefer mono, but stereo works well when Ornette is squawking away in one speaker and Don Cherry in the other, with bass and drums between. The separation in space seems logical, as would a painting occupying space. How could an abstract painting appear in “mono” – all the paint daubs in the middle?

These labels should be Red & Green according to Goldmine, not Grey and Orange. It is still credited to 1971, the year of first release.


3 thoughts on “Ornette Coleman “Art of the Improvisers” (1971)

  1. one of my few 70s vinyl: Ornette Coleman/Charlie Haden Soapsuds soapsuds on Coleman’s own Artists House label AH 6 (rare), soon after reprinted on AH 9406 (frequent).
    here Coleman plays in duo and uses tenor and trumpet.
    different from all others before 1977, quite melodic, beautiful gatefold cover, booklet with discography, and great bass sound.

  2. Phew! I bow to your knowledge, Dott! There is a Discogs reference to SD 1572 in 1970, then a year later 1971, this K40112 variation. Probably a contributor error. I paid less tha 16 euro for this copy. I take it that is a bargain? It sure sounds good and the mandala cover is lovely glossy. I’m becoming a bit of a convert to Ornette.

  3. the unusual color can be explained with the NON Usa pressing: as you see number on label is K 40112 instead of SD 1572 on cover.
    my pressing has the usual green/red label.
    1572 doesn’t exist in mono.
    my first copy was exactly like this: it was the rarest Atlantic Coleman record in the 70’s.

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