Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Ornette Coleman - 1979 - Of Human Feelings

Ornette Coleman 
Of Human Feelings

01. Sleep Talk 3:31
02. Jump Street 4:19
03. Him And Her 4:15
04. Air Ship 6:01
05. What Is The Name Of That Song? 3:56
06. Job Mob 4:51
07. Love Words 2:50
08. Times Square 6:00

Alto Saxophone – Ornette Coleman
Bass Guitar – Jamaaladeen Tacuma
Drums – Calvin Weston, Ornette Denardo Coleman
Guitar – Bern Nix, Charlie Ellerbee

Recorded: April 25, 1979 at Columbia Recording Studio, N.Y., N.Y.

So here's why I listen to Ornette. I love his approach in which each of the players is free to move around in areas that interest them or work in tandem with one or more other players to create the music. Sometimes four or five people are going in different directions at once; sometimes there are a trio and duo working simultaneously; sometimes the whole group is working toward one end. The larger the group, the more difficult this can get for the listener, especially one who's not invested in paying attention to the details. But in a nice, smaller band, like the classic quartets or the Prime Time sextets and septets, it can be heavenly. I mean for me, a great work of art should leave you a little dissatisfied. You should get something worthwhile out of it and yet leave it wanting to return, to figure out exactly what's going on, what the artist meant, how it was made, etc. Art that gives up everything it has on one or two exposures is hardly art at all. Medium doesn't matter - this holds as true for music as it does for painting, writing, sculpture, performance art, whatever. To me, Ornette is one of the great artists to ever hit the scene, and this is one of his best works. I know a lot of people don't think too much of Prime Time, but I think that at their best - as in this album - they're the equal of the great quartet(s). But it's not easy, you have to pay attention. You can do this on the macro level, trying to hear how all six players are interacting at the same time, or you can do it micro, where you focus on one player and what he's doing, then expand out to see how if fits within the whole. I recommend starting with one player (and why not make it Ornette?) and work your way out to the whole thing. Nobody else makes music that sounds so tight and loose at the same time, that makes sense from so many perspectives, even if they're ones that most jazz folks have a hard time getting to. Do I understand "Harmolodics"? Hell no. But I understand when something works, and this does, in spades. Did I mention that I also think that it may be the best of all Prime Time albums? Well, it may.

When one thinks of Ornette Coleman's innovative Prime Time Band, it is of crowded ensembles played by the altoist/leader, two guitars, two electric bassists, and two drummers. Actually, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, who plays enough for two musicians, is the only bassist on this date, but guitarists Charlie Ellerbee and Bern Nix, along with drummers Denardo Coleman and Calvin Weston, keep the ensembles quite exciting. None of the eight Coleman originals (which includes a tune titled "What Is the Name of That Song?") would catch on, but in this context they serve as a fine platform for Coleman's distinctive horn and often witty and free (but oddly melodic) style.

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