Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ornette is back !!!!

At the end of 2004, we saw the Ornette Coleman Quartet at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. It was one of the most memorable concerts I’ve ever seen. About the only people who didn’t think so were the blue-haired subscribers who left in droves after the first number.

Yesterday, Ornette released a new live album called Sound Grammar with the same quartet we saw two years ago – Ornette on alto, trumpet and violin, his son Denardo on drums and two basses played by Tony Falanga and Greg Cohen. It’s his first album in ten years.

The idea of two basses apparently goes back to Duke Ellington, who started using that configuration back in the mid-1930s and used it off and on until the end of his career. But there is not that much similarity in how the two composers use this set up. Ornette uses one bass playing counter melodies, primarily arco (with bow) and the other bassist in a more tradition, pizzicato (plucked) role.

It’s great music and is another great addition to my Ornette collection. While it probably won’t get much play on the radio, I’d highly recommend it. The album comes full circle (pun intended) by featuring a new version of Turnaround, a composition he featured on his 1959 Contemporary album Tomorrow is the Question! (Hey, as a 47 year old, that wasn’t that long ago!)

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