Jun 112015
 

Still, he just lets the core of the melody hang out there.

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  11 Responses to “Ornette Coleman Rambles On”

  1. I’d never seen this solo clip from 1972 before, including a bit with Ornette at the piano.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wk-k3KzBZec

  2. BigSteve

    He speaks to me. The piano playing was interesting, but has there ever been an Ornette fan who wanted him to play less alto? I kept coming across clips of him playing violin and trumpet on youtube today. I know Mr. Mod saw me post this on Facebook today, but here he is with an electric band featuring James Blood Ulmer on guitar and Shannon Jackson on drums:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0HB8ybKJzo

    He was a great man.

    • I need to come clean about an area of musical ignorance: I’m never really sure when someone’s playing a tenor or an alto or even a soprano sax unless the shape is different, like those straight saxes, which I think are sopranos. As I watched the clips of Ornette playing trumpet and violin I wondered, “Does he know how to play those instruments?” When he plays whatever sax, it sounds like him. When he plays the other instruments, he sounds like a guy with a lot of confidence who probably can’t play the instrument much better than I can. Does anyone know if he’s “faking it” or not?

      Another thing I thought about while digging through electric Ornette clips: are his electric bassists about the only jazz bassists who play Rickenbackers?

      • BigSteve

        I prefer to believe he was using the violin for texture. It seemed that he played it more like a drum. Remember that there were people who always thought he was faking it. A much repeated story has trumpeter Roy Eldridge, upon hearing his first quartet in NYC in the 60s, saying, “I’d listened to him all kinds of ways. I listened to him high and I listened to him cold sober. I even played with him. I think he’s jiving baby.” As long as he’s playing sax, I never get that feeling.

        Ornette apparently thought of himself primarily as a composer rather than a player anyway. Singer-songwriter Joe Henry got Ornette to play on one of his songs in 2001. He had a nice reminiscence of that session on Facebook yesterday. Apparently he kept doing takes that Joe thought were great, but he was unhappy with them. He told him, “Joseph, I know the saxophone so well. And I still hear myself playing the saxophone. I need to keep going until I’m not playing sax anymore but just playing music.”

        I noticed the Rickebacker bass too. Maybe it sounded good next to those big fat hollow-body Gibsons the guitarists were playing. Later when the great Philadelphian bassist Jamaladeen Tacuma played in Prime Time he introduced the Mod’s favorite instrument, the Steinberger bass, to the band.

      • tonyola

        For the record, Coleman’s usual weapon of choice was the alto sax, and that’s what he’s playing on the clips that you provided.

    • Did anyone notice that the Ulmer line in this piece sounds like a note for note cop of the opening bassoon part in the Rites of Spring?

      Apropos of our related copyright discussion on today’s All-Star Jam.

  3. I’m pretty lightweight when it comes to jazz. I really just gravitate towards the pre-1960 basics: early Miles, Monk, early Coltrane, etc. So Ornette’s music isn’t really my cup of tea. But I really admire any artist who so relentlessly chases after something so odd, no doubt for a long time to his own detriment. My favorite line from his NYT obit:

    “he was beaten by a gang of musicians outside a dance hall in Baton Rouge, La., for playing strangely”

  4. misterioso

    I love the early albums. After a certain point–early 60s, for me–I can’t grasp what he’s getting at most of the time.

 
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