Ornette Head To the Masonic Auditorium last night to see the great Ornette Coleman. Playing with his son Denardo on drums (who appeared for the first time on a Coleman record at age 8!), plus two virtuoso bassists. Generally regarded as the originator of free jazz, Ornette is now 75.

He’s never been a powerful player — Ornette’s sensibility is finer, more abstract than that. More of an idea guy. Through the first few songs, worried that he sounded 75 — less vital than he once did, less harmolodic. But then something clicked, the energy came together, the compositions started to fulfill themselves. The (very unusual) two-bass configuration added something wonderfully rich and grounded, a smooth tangle of wood in the marsh, something to stand on. As the evening progressed, Ornette started to sound younger and younger, his inventions fresher, more tangible. The music was happening in so many dimensions at once, but never once sounded chaotic, only becoming more focused as the evening wove its way forward. Afraid to try and put more into words.

The Dancing In Our Heads continued for hours afterwards; it took dry martinis and a belly full of olive bread to come down.

Music: Devendra Banhart :: When They Come

8 Replies to “Ornette”

  1. Saw Ornette (on his birthday) last year at Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor. He was dressed in a vintage powder blue suit. Amazing performance. The best jazz performance I’ve ever seen, maybe even the best performance I’ve experienced (while not in a psychedelic state). Fantastic intensity.

    He ended the show with a prayer which I don’t specifically remember (“god is infinite energy within, music is an exploration of this energy”; or something stuffy like that). An then a 25 minute encore of “Lonely Woman” followed.

  2. Nate, yeah!!!

    Ornette ended last night’s show with a similar invocation. The final words were either “stand forever” or “shine forever,” I wasn’t sure which.

    But it definitely was a night to remember. Can still hear it, I think.

  3. Yeah, it was frustratin that they never identified which bassist was Tony Falanga and which was Greg Cohen. They were both amazing, in different ways.

  4. Cohen is the dude with the long hair (or at least he had long hair a year or so ago). My favorite of the two. More intricate as I remember. Played with John Zorn for a bit. Still plays with Tom Waits, I think.

    I saw Sonny Rollins in concert but a month or so ago. The difference between Ornette and he is striking (despite being of similar age). Sonny has mellowed quite a bit (he played mostly shitty ballads). Ornette still innovates, and is still very far out there.

    Why, here you are:

  5. Thanks Nate. Of course, didn’t help that we were sitting in the very top row (could barely see, though it hardly mattered).

    Rollins and Ornette have little in common beyond playing the same instrument!

    Hmmm… [shack puts on Rollins’ “Way Out West”]

  6. Peter, most righteous, thanks. Too bad, dimeadozen isn’t taking any new registrations. I’ll try back later. Would love to have an archive of this.

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