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Ornette Coleman - The Complete Science Fiction Sessions (1971)

This two-CD set combines a pair of Ornette Coleman's Columbia LPs, Science Fiction and Broken Shadows, and adds three tracks--a new piece, an alternate take, and an alternate mix. Most of the material comes from sessions in September 1971, when Coleman surrounded himself with old associates--including the group with which he'd made his startling New York debut a dozen years earlier: trumpeter Don Cherry, bassist Charlie Haden, and drummer Billy Higgins. Also along were tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman, drummer Ed Blackwell, and trumpeter Bobby Bradford, another longtime associate. The seven musicians recorded as two distinct quartets, as a quintet with Bradford, and as a septet, while other guests contributed to still more permutations. All the musicians were deeply immersed in Coleman's musical language: the complex, sometimes jagged tunes; the emotional directness that drew on the wellspring of the blues; the sprung rhythms and melodic freedom that had first defined the free-jazz movement.

The set's first CD consists largely of quartet and quintet pieces. There are new groupings that take new directions, such as two evocative songs with the gifted Indian vocalist Asha Puthi, accompanied by a septet with two classical trumpeters and Higgins on tympani. And on "Science Fiction," the band breathes seething chaos around the poet David Henderson's voice. Much of the second CD concentrates on the septet, a group that inevitably invokes Coleman's most radical grouping, the "double quartet" that recorded Free Jazz in 1960, with five of the original members present. The pieces here are shorter, with more clearly defined compositional materials, but the collective improvisations are still bracing and the rhythmic dialogues often stunning. While Cherry and Coleman no longer worked together regularly, they shared a vision and empathy unique in jazz, and the shifting densities and internal meters of "Elizabeth" are something to behold. "Good Girl Blues" and "Is It Forever" catch Coleman layering and alternating different components--Kansas City blues, swing, bop, free, and classical--to create unique musical spaces. This is one of Coleman's strangest groupings, with his regular band joined by blues singer Webster Armstrong, guitarist Jim Hall, hard-bop pianist Cedar Walton, and a woodwind quintet. This is essential hearing, varied and intriguing music from one of the greatest architects, composers, and improvisers in the history of jazz. --- Stuart Broomer

Ornette Coleman is well represented in "The Complete Science Fiction Sessions," a two-CD set issued by Columbia/Legacy. In the early '70s, Columbia issued three albums by Coleman: "Science Fiction," "Broken Shadows," and "Skies of America." This set combines the first two and adds a few alternate takes, marking the first time any of this music has been available domestically on CD. Three pieces feature Coleman's original quartet: trumpeter Don Cherry, and bassist Charlie Haden, drummer Billy Higgins. Other tunes feature trumpeter Bobby Bradford, tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman, drummer Ed Blackwell, vocalist Asha Puthil, poet David Henderson, guitarist Jim Hall, and pianist Cedar Walton, among others. --- JAZZIZ Magazine Copyright © 2000, Milor Entertainment, Inc.

Listening to the first moments of "What Reason Could I Give," the lead-off track on this valuable reissue, one is reminded of Ornette Coleman's pervasive influence on present-day jazz composition. The expanded ensemble, the busy rhythms percolating underneath sustained chords and melodic figures, the dream-like vocals by Asha Puthli: all of it brims with the kind of tradition/anti-tradition dialectic found in much of today's best new music.

This two-disc package includes not only 1971's Science Fiction (with two alternate takes), but also the more disjointed Broken Shadows, an album recorded during the same few days but unreleased until 1982. The music finds Coleman in transition.

Several of the Science Fiction cuts feature his classic quartet with Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, and Billy Higgins, but others feature a variety of additional elements: timpani, poetry (recited by David Henderson), dual drum sets (Higgins and Ed Blackwell), and a smoking quintet with Dewey Redman on tenor sax and Bobby Bradford on trumpet. On tracks like "Science Fiction" and "Rock the Clock," Coleman appears to be searching for the next "new thing." David Henderson's voice is processed electronically on the former, and some sort of fuzz bass effect is heard on the latter, which brings it at least as close to Parliament/Funkadelic as to any sort of jazz.

Most of Broken Shadows follows in a similar vein, with pieces for quartet, quintet, and septet. There's a more substantial dose of the Higgins-Blackwell double drum set, and a few of Coleman's most distinctive themes, including "School Work," "Happy House," and the marvelous title cut. The last two tracks veer off in another direction, however: both "Good Girl Blues" and "Is It Forever" feature crooner Webster Armstrong, an anonymous woodwind quintet, and—of all people—Cedar Walton and Jim Hall. While "Is It Forever" offers a rare glimpse into Coleman's ballad writing, neither track quite seems to belong, and neither features Walton or Hall in any substantial way.

These sessions may not rank among the best of Coleman's works, but they offer an important glimpse into the evolution of one of modern jazz's prophets.

Track Listing: CD1: What Passion Could I Give; Civilization Day; Street Woman; Science Fiction; Rock The Clock; All My Life; Law Years; The Jungle Is A Skyscraper; School Work; Country Town Blues; Street Woman (alternate); Civilization Day. CD2: Happy House; Elizabeth; Written Word; Broken Shadows; Rubber Gloves; Good Girl Blues; Is It Forever.

Personnel: Ornette Coleman: alto sax, violin, trumpet; Dewey Redman: tenor saxophone, musette; Don Cherry: pocket trumpet; Bobby Bradford: trumpet; Charlie Haden, bass; Billy Higgins: drums and timpani; Ed Blackwell: drums; Carmine Fonarotto: trumpet (CD1#1, CD1#6); Gerard Schwarz, trumpet (CD1#1, CD1#6); Asha Puthli, vocals (CD1#1, CD1#6); David Henderson: poet (CD1#4); Jim Hall: guitar (CD2#6, CD2#7); Cedar Walton: piano (CD2#6, CD2#7); Webster Armstrong: vocals (CD2#6, CD2#7); unidentified flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, French horn (CD2#6, CD2#7). --- David Adler, All About Jazz

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link 1 or link 2.

mr.A pisze...

Awesome thanks! Didn't know it was there.

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Thank you for the comment :))

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