Sunday, March 19, 2006

MANY HAPPY RETURNS


Many happy returns to Ornette Coleman, who reaches the big seven-six today. He must be one of the very few major-league jazz pioneers who is still alive - Sonny Rollins is the only other that I can immediately think of.

I went to see him at the Barbican last year, and he was stunning. I figured beforehand that his particular brand of screeching dissonance might get boring if I was sober, so I had three quick red wines at the bar before the gig started (though, since it was at the Barbican, I suppose it was a concert rather than a gig) and two more at the interval. This strategy worked a treat - it was literally one of the most exhilerating concerts I have ever been to. Ornette was dressed all in white, wore a white porkpie hat, played a white toy saxophone, and occasionally switched to a white violin. He had two - count them - double bassists, one plucked, one bowed, and his son Denardo on drums.

I don't think I consciously recognised many of the songs, but that is hardly the point with Ornette Coleman's music. A lot of it was virtually white noise, though Joe Zawinul's description of Ornette's music - where "nobody solos and everybody solos" - defines it better.

I also bumped into a 75 year old relative during the interval - now you wouldn't get that at an Arctic Monkeys gig.

So, your task for this week is to try out Ornette Coleman - you won't go far wrong with his first few CDs from the late 50s and 60s (The Shape of Jazz To Come, for example, or This is our Music), though I am also a big fan of his most recent album, Tone Dialling, from 1995.

Today is also Sir Ian Blair's birthday. He is 53. Another day closer to death, Ian...

3 Comments:

Blogger minifig said...

hi paddingotn. i'm glad to see that you now have a blog of your own - I shall have to look a little closer at some point when I have more time...

7:23 PM  
Blogger Snowball said...

Great blog, Paddington.

There seems to be a theme emerging with respect to the Arctic Monkeys though - did you have a bad experience?

9:15 PM  
Blogger Comandante Gringo said...

Ornette Coleman is definitely an acquired taste...
;P

In my musical universe, I gauge the aural sophistication of "jazz lovers" by their stance toward the likes of Coleman ("Ornette Who..?"). There's a local jazz station I barely tolerated for a while (the campus stations have been much better with their jazz programming; however I only listen to Internet radio these days); but besides their relentless Rightwing slant to their target audience of stock-jobbers and white-collar pseudo-sophisticates -- including eulogies to the mass-murderer Ronald Reagan when he died -- I soon decided that I couldn't and wouldn't take their narrow definition of what "jazz" was... In other words: they wouldn't be caught dead programming Ornette Coleman, or any of that other "free-form" dissonant stuff...

Some jazz professionals.
I'm so much happier with my choice.

(Zawinul is one of my heroes too -- even though the one time I saw Weather Report live, Wayne Shorter was behaving like a prima donna and they sucked canal-water big-time. I still want my money back!)
;>

9:06 PM  

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