Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Ornette Coleman - 1978 - Body Meta

Ornette Coleman 
Body Meta

01. Voice Poetry 8:00
02. Home Grown 7:36
03. Macho Woman 7:35
04. Fou Amour 8:31
05. European Echoes 7:40

Ornette Coleman – alto saxophone
Bern Nix – guitar
Charlie Ellerbee – guitar
Jamaaladeen Tacuma – bass
Ronald Shannon Jackson – drums, percussion

Recorded at Barclay Studios, Paris, December, 1976,
Mixed at Sound Ideas, N.Y.C., January, 1978

Booklet Insert: This release can be found with least two different versions of the booklet. One with the Rauschenberg art and another (later? more commonly found) version with art by David Sharpe.
Some copies ship with the insert in the front pocket of the gatefold while others have that pocket glued and the insert is in the same pocket as the LP.

Culled from the same sessions which produced Ornette Coleman's lone A&M release, Dancing in Your Head, the music on Body Meta bears a striking resemblance to Captain Beefheart's Magic Band on Trout Mask Replica, whose clashing guitars and ritualistic rhythms were an obvious corollary for Coleman's new band Prime Time. And while Coleman, like Beefheart, also maintained a tacit relationship to traditional rural blues (as on the Bo Diddley-styled changes of "Voice Poetry"), in truth, the raucous, parallel streams of rhythm, melodic counterpoint, and clashing chordal figures, as featured on "Home Grown" and "Macho Woman," more nearly resemble the collective fury of the Master Musicians of Joujouka than any rock or funk band you care to name. Still, electric bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma and drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson manage to imply traditional backbeats and melodic vamps without necessarily falling into any discernible grooves for too long, even as guitarists Bern Nix and Charles Ellerbee function as a mini-string section, feeding Coleman a continual stream of melodic echoes and harmonic juxtapositions. But for all the ensemble density, it is the clarion call of Coleman's alto saxophone that provides most of the interest on Body Meta. 

This album was the 1st ever to be released on the Artist's House label back in 1978, & that translates literally to the cover of Body Meta, a gatefold featuring 4 works by different artists, that one on the front is by a tribal leader, probably from when Ornette went to Morrocco to see the Jajouka musicians which inspired Dancing In Yr Head & this [others like Brian Jones, William Burroughs & Lee Ranaldo have taken this enlightening pilgrimage], & the credits are saved for an insert which also features a great poem 'Conversation For A Song' & a then complete discography + the sheet music for the song Fou Amour from this excellent disc. Staccato drums then guitars open the album on Voice Poetry, & it flows along brilliantly to feature this new band of guitarists Bern Nix & Charlie Ellerbee, bassist [electric that is] Jamalaadeen Tacuma & drummer Shannon Jackson for a couple of minutes before the arrival of the man himself. The he is the star & his playing is as pure & soulful as it was back on the Shape of Jazz to Come, & in a way it's unfortunate that everything else gets buried underneath it after this but it works well. The comparisons to the Trout Mask Magic Band do make sense although this is not as cacaphonous & seemingly chaotic [Beefheart although being highly influenced by Coleman, like to only have himself allowed to improvise while his groups must stick strictly to what he composed & his personality is a bit more obsessive too], Body Meta is one of the rare things worthy of being played directly after that in-a-world-of-its-own masterpiece. Each track here is around 8 minutes which is enough time to explore without losing the listening audience. The next 2 tracks move along nicely in a similar vein whilst Fou Amour [i.e. Mad Love] is a ballad & the guitars are playing parts normally designed for a piano. European Echoes if I'm not mistaken was an older tune from the Golden Circle & is rather graceful but thankfully lets loose a bit on the outro, by which time I want to spin the whole platter again which I could do for hours on end. This is music of pure soul expression & deserves a lot of repeated listening, it's highly danceable/funky too. I would highly recommend it to anyone & everyone. For the body & the mind. Long live Ornette & all of his players.

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