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Music  >>  CDs  >>  Jazz

Ornette Coleman

Ornette at 12/Crisis!

Ornette Coleman Ornette At 12 Crisis!
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As the man who basically invented free jazz and even coined the term, Ornette Coleman has had the vast majority of his catalog reissued on CD, and rightfully so. But there are two records, both recorded for the Impulse! label, that have somehow escaped digitization until now, The first, Ornette at 12, features Ornette on alto sax, trumpet, and violin with Dewey Redman on tenor sax, long-time collaborator Charlie Haden on bass, and son Denardo (age 12 at the time of the August 1968 recording) on drums. The jazz world was still getting over the effrontery of Denardo playing drums—he had made his debut two years earlier on The Empty Foxhole—which may explain why this one’s remained in the vaults till now. But Redman’s playing on tenor is just stellar, and Ornette’s untrained trumpet and violin technique make a nice foil for Denardo’s fresh approach to the traps. Another boundary-pushing record in a career full of them. But if it’s a puzzle that Ornette at 12 has not been previously reissued, it’s a downright mystery why Crisis! (which was actually released in 1972) also hasn’t come out; recorded live at N.Y.U. in March 1969 with a killer band of Redman, Haden, Denardo, and Don Cherry on flute and trumpet, it takes its place with Broken Shadows and Science Fiction as one of Ornette’s great small group recordings of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The version of Haden’s “Song for Che” is one of the best on record, the rendition of “Broken Shadows” here is simply beautiful, which is not a term many associate with Coleman’s playing, and the addition of Don Cherry—fresh from his own experiments in Indian and African music—spices up what is already a pretty heady brew. Real Gone Music’s two-for-one reissue of this pair of albums features the original gatefold album art and an essay by Howard Mandel, author of Miles, Ornette, Cecil: Jazz Beyond Jazz. Remastered by Mike Milchner at SonicVision from original tape sources.

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