One more for the jazz bohemians: Ornette! (1961)

Track Selection: “Totem & Taboo” >>


Don Cherry (cor) Ornette Coleman (as) Scott LaFaro (b) Ed Blackwell (d)  recorded January 31, 1961, NYC


Recorded one month after the genre-defining Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation in 1961, the composition titles of “Ornette!” –  W.R.U, T.&T, C.&D, R.P.D.D. – are derived from the titles of the works of Sigmund Freud:  W.R.U: “Wit and its Relation to the Unconscious” T&T: “Totem & Taboo”, C.& D.: “Civilization And its Discontents” R.P.D.D.: “Relation Of The Poet To Day Dreaming”.

It’s not often I am lost for words, but this is one of them. I fall back on the line: “There is no need to analyse this music, because it speaks for itself.”

The record consist of extended improvisations and I was unable to find any selections on YouTube.  What I did find lots of was recent footage of Ornette at not-Free Festivals, and saw some of his many new-hippy fans, in one case clapping along to “Dancing in your Head”, with a steady beat in four four time, somewhat missing the point.

Instead of a sample, an interesting clip from a documentary on the impact of Ornette’s arrival on the New York scene in 1959. Sounds the right time and place. (If this isn’t intellectual enough, a dissertation in Italian on the relationship beween improvisation in art and music

What would have been more impressive still is a dissertation on the relationship between free jazz and psychiatry. I actually read a lot of these Simund Freud texts when I was a student in the Sixties, and I can’t recall them making a huge impression on me at the time, or my cat Oedipus come to that.

4 thoughts on “One more for the jazz bohemians: Ornette! (1961)

  1. Too much for me too: in effect I couldn’t write about music this way.
    It’s very difficult, if not impossible for me, to explain why I dig that particular record/musician.
    It’s a sort of falling in love that hits ear, brain and guts at the same time.
    Almost impossible to explain in words.
    I thank LC who tries to let us understand something about a single record by words: I could’t do that.

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