Ornette Coleman This is Our Music (1960)

We havent had a post for the Free tendency for a while, so Ornette can point the way. Get one Free, get another one, also Free. Free for the price of none, which is free anyway.

Track Selection 1: Kaleidoscope

Track Selection 2: Embraceable you


Don Cherry (cor) Ornette Coleman (as) Charlie Haden (b) Ed Blackwell (d) recorded NYC, July 19, 26 & August 2, 1960


Adventurous stuff as you expect from Ornette. My vocabulary doesn’t do Free justice so I will borrow from all-knowing AllMusic:

The session is also notable for containing the only standard (or, for that matter, the only non-original) Coleman recorded during his tenure with Atlantic — Gershwin’s “Embraceable You,” which is given a lyrical interpretation and even a rather old-time, sentimental intro (which may or may not be sarcastic, but really is pretty). 

 The unapologetic title of the album makes clear, he wanted to be taken (or left) on his own terms. And that word “our” also makes clear just how important the concept of group improvisation was to Coleman’s goals. Anyone can improvise whenever he feels like it, and the players share such empathy that each knows how to add to the feeling of the ensemble without undermining its egalitarian sense of give and take. Their stark, thin textures were highly distinctive, and both Coleman and Cherry chose instruments (respectively, an alto made of plastic rather than brass and a pocket trumpet or cornet instead of a standard trumpet) to accentuate that quality.

All in all, This Is Our Music keeps one of the hottest creative streaks in jazz history going strong.”

In 1960, people literally wanted to beat the crap out of Ornette Coleman because of what he was doing to jazz. But now, his work just sounds exceptionally fresh and timeless”

I used to have a kaleidoscope when I was a kid, and took great delight in looking at the changing patterns. Not a lot changes I guess.

Vinyl: LTZ-K 15228 mono / SAH-K 6181 stereo

The old mono stereo dilema, again, because it wont go away. However I decided to select from the mono only this time around, as I think it suits the quartet more when the sound origin is unidirectional.

Great cover, the best of Ornette’s, as it shows the quartet, not just Ornette. That seems right for a work of simultaneous improvisation. The formal suits and white shirts say “we are serious”. So different form the self-indulgent fashion of the following decades: bell-bottoms, free-love, Generation X, Anarchy in the USA, campus teen protest. These guys probably had more to protest about than the rest put together, but they have a quiet dignity.

1. London Atlantic Mono

2. London Atlantic Stereo

Collectors Corner

One record missing from my Ornette collection for some years. You wait ages for a copy, no one seems to be selling it,  then two turn up at once – on the same day. Stereo in the morning in north London, mono in the afternoon in central London. Couldn’t resist buying them both, as one will be better than the other,  but who knows which? If you have both, you must have the better one. Stands to reason.

The sort of reasoning which reminded me of watching a guy in a Casino a few years back making a big win. After watching him play roulette for a few spins of the wheel, I could see why he kept winning. He put money on odd and even, black and red, and line splits for every number combination, he couldn’t fail to win something every time, except the infrequent occasion when the House won. Sort of a pointless exercise really, costing him a fortune, but he seemed to be enjoying it.

So, I got two copies. Being Decca pressings they both sound great, so both are a winner really.

6 thoughts on “Ornette Coleman This is Our Music (1960)

  1. I’ve been listetning to this record for the past two days and I’m amazed. I mean, I was expecting something “different”, but this is far beyond. There is something about avant-garde jazz from 1960’s that I really enjoy – maybe the rythmic patterns, maybe the crazy sounds of saxophone, maybe the pursuit for breaking the boundaries or maybe just the punk attitude. Probably everything combined:D “TIOM” fits perfectly into my taste, and I’m glad to have this. By the way, I own a stereo copy, Atlantic white fan, and it sounds AMAZING.

  2. Question from jacekbroda 13:37 June 14, 2013

    If anyone can help answer?

    Recently I’ve “discovered” Ornette Coleman and I try to collect his Atlantic records: Shape of Jazz, Change of Century, This is Our Music and Free Jazz. First pressings (according to Rate Your Music and Discogs) of Shape of Jazz and Change of Century were released as stereo and than mono but in the case of This is Our Music it was the other way and hence my question – do you have any idea why it’s like that?

  3. This was missing from my collection until the weekend. I just bought an early stereo Atlantic (white fan) and had great fun working out from the inner promo liner that mine must be about a 1968 pressing judging from the release dates of other LPs featured on the Atlantic bag — 1968 was the latest I was able to find.

    The other distinguishing feature of mine (and others I have seen tagged as ‘originals’, which I don’t believe can be) is that the large red Stereo stamp is in the upper right-hand front corner just touching the album title, rather than in the lower right-hand corner where there is evidently space for it. Anyway, for a tenner I am very pleased. Embraceable You, whether ironic or not, is a great track. It has sent me back to the other Ornettes I have — Shape of Jazz to Come, Tomorrow is the Question, and a lovely early (possibly original?) Free Jazz.

    Even Free Jazz is nowhere near as intimidating a listen as I once thought it.

    • Thanks for sharing, Alan, as they say. Atlantic Blue/Green white fan Stereo according to my copy of Goldmine was 1960. Black fan took over around 1963. I think you bagged yourself an original. I don’t trust inner sleeves, as I know people like me used to mix them up something awful.

      Of the numerous copies of Free Jazz I have seen, I believe the hole cut in the gatefold so you can see the Jackson Pollock though it is some sort of indication of provenance. I have seen reissues with a white blank square (not cut out) or a picture of the Pollock in place of the cut hole. Never mind the Pollocks, enjoy the music, I say.

      More difficult music definitely gets easier as you get older. What gets more difficult is things like walking, running, jumping, lifting boxes of LPs, all that musculo-skeletal stuff.

      • Maybe you’re right, LJC, and my Ornette/THis IsOur Music *is* a stereo original. I can see how the inner bag of a later provenance can easily be explained away, as you suggest, but the ‘misplaced’ Stereo designation top right seems harder to explain.

        Or maybe *true* originals were all Stereo stamped top right — before they realised there was a nice big gap they could stamp ‘Stereo’ in at bottom right?

        Ah, who knows, and I often think that that way madness lies.

        I think you’re right — hard music gets easier, everything else gets more difficult… Or simply not worth the effort.

  4. Great album–and always loved that cover. No vinyl yet–I only have this on the (excellent) Ornette Atlantic box set.

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