Master of Harmelodics
Ornette Coleman- Live at New Orleans Jazz Fest 2003
About five years ago, I ventured out to New Orleans to check out one of the most talented and innovative saxophone players in the annals of free jazz history. Ornette Coleman played a huge part in introducing the idea of "free jazz" to the general public in the 60's, after releasing his seminal 1960 album entitled Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation. He was also instrumental in formulating his own musical language called harmelodics. Harmelodic theory is essentially Ornette's theory that every instrument has its own pitches and that the same note on a music staff means different notes on different instruments. By exploring this idea, Ornette found a way to give everyone the same melody but with each person exploring various emotions within the context of the tune. If this sounds complex to you, you are not alone. Even though I can't get a handle on the harmelodics theory, I appreciate the intensely beautiful music that is created because of it. He has single-handedly rewritten the rules of jazz.
I intended to record this concert on my minidisc recorder without any interruptions. Unfortunately, a security guard noticed that I was holding a mike up about halfway through the show, and I was forced to stop recording the show. I was grateful that he didn't confiscate the minidisc player and the portion that I had already recorded, because it sounded pretty good.
About 4 years later I was having a discussion with Atanase from the now defunct blog Church Number Nine. He said that he had the entire show and would be happy to share it with me. The sound quality is really great, and it captures Ornette in a rare festival performance. The band lineup is Ornette on soprano sax, Denardo Coleman on drums, Alvin Batiste on clarinet, Ellis Marsalis on piano and someone whose name escapes my memory on bass. There are no titles for these tracks, so they just go by letters- a, b, c, etc. If anyone has any additional information about the song titles, please give me a shout. I hope you enjoy this one!
If you live in Portland, don't miss the rare opportunity to catch Ornette live at the Portland Jazz Festival. He will be playing at the Arlene Schnitzer Hall on Feb 15th. I'm not sure if it's sold out, but it has to be close to selling out.
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