Ornette Coleman “Twins” (1961)

Track Selection (long): “Check Up” 10:00 >


on Check Up: Don Cherry (cor) Ornette Coleman (as) Scott LaFaro (b) Ed Blackwell (d) recorded NYC, January 31, 1961. Recording Engineer Tom Dowd.

Other tracks:  Don Cherry (pocket tp) Freddie Hubbard (tp) Eric Dolphy (bcl) Ornette Coleman (as) Charlie Haden, Scott LaFaro (b) Ed Blackwell, Billy Higgins (d)             sessions May 22, 1959, July 19, July 26,  December 21, 1960.


With Ornette you are going to have to go where Ornette wants to go. I like the track Check Up as it still manages to remain melodious and rhythmic, whilst at the same time giving the soloists complete freedom to play whatever they feel they want to play. Free-Lite I guess you could call it. Having grown accustomed to a Charlie Parker influenced breakneck speed rollercoaster of saxophone notes, I find Ornette stopping every few seconds, delivering small parcels of notes, then taking a discontinuous direction, a very different experience. It grows on you, but then so does moss if you stand still long enough. I have less difficulty with Don Cherry, whose playing I find more recognisable musically, though still following the freedom path: “We have a beginning and an end, but between them, what notes would you like to play today?”


The 1841 Broadway address (1971-3), in my opinion the first and only good quality Atlantic pressings on the Green & Orange labels.Subsequent management changes (indicated by HQ address changes) culminating in the take over of Atlantic by Warner Brothers, saw vinyl audio quality decline to the point where CD is the preferable source. I have seen the very opposite advice given on music forums, extolling the virtues of Warner Brothers pressings,  and there is no shortage of people online with unshakeable faith in their own limited experience based on poor quality audio systems, so you will have to make up your own mind. At the end of the day it is your money, your system, and only your ears that count.

I am very happy with the sound of this record. The recordings date back a decade before this release, and are as fresh as they can be. My initial misgivings turn out ill-founded. Good result.

I have since seen an original first UK release from 1971, and the Atlantic cover was dull and matt, totally unlike the sumptuous glossy laminated US cover. Very good result, double brandies all round.


Collectors Corner

By all rights it should have swept instantly off the “New Arrivals” shelf, but perhaps the beardy wierdies were all back to Uni that week, as it remained for a few days on the shelf while I made up my mind.

The unanswered question was “is this the original first pressing, or a later re-issue?” Ornette sessions recorded in 1961, on a record issued in 1971, worse still, on Atlantic red & orange label, which I generally avoid as they mostly sound horrid.   The jazz specialist at the store usually is very good at pointing out the “original” status of any record, if only because it might be expected to carry a price premuim, which he marks up for. On this copy, he was strangely silent. A question to the guys behind the counter confirmed “he wasn’t sure” and the Goldmine copy in the shop had no entry for Ornette, being the general music edition and not the Jazz edition.

The proper collectors response is buy now or regret later. There was a closer on hand, however. This Soho store has a large selection of jazz modern 180gm new reissues, and sure enough, a quick flick through located a copy of Ornette Coleman’s “Twins” – absolutely identical in every smallest detail, apart from being a modern 180gm re-issue. Exactly the same liner notes and publishing details including the 1971 production date. No-one is going to base an audiophile reissue on another reissue cover. Mine must be the real deal.  A US original first press !  WoooHoo!

Postscript: Goldmine Jazz Edition confirms the 1971 issue as the first release of “Twins”

1 thought on “Ornette Coleman “Twins” (1961)

  1. Well, there you go. A first pressing after all. It’s such a good feeling when you can finally confirm that you have the real deal after having been in the dark about it for quite a while. 😉


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