Ornette Coleman- Live at PDX Jazz Fest 2008
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A couple weeks ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to see Ornette Coleman in a live setting for the second time. I couldn't pass up the chance to see Ornette at the PDX Jazz Fest, despite the fact that I was unemployed and broke when tickets went on sale. This was a once in a lifetime chance to witness the sheer artistry and musicianship of the present-day Ornette Coleman quintet.
I decided to preserve this concert on a new digital recorder that I purchased at the last minute when I realized that my Minidisc player could not be fixed in time to record the show. May of the shows that I've recorded in the past were recorded on this minidisc player, including the Evan Parker show at the 411 club and the Ornette Coleman show at the New Orleans Jazz Fest 2003. However, it was not meant to be this time.
Because this was the first show that I've recorded on this device, it is far from a perfect recording. I was worried about the recorder getting confiscated by the ushers at the Arlene Schnitzer hall, so there are several points throughout the show that you may hear me shuffing the device around. I was also on an aisle seat and there were people who arrived after the show started and needed me to move. This happened three times after the performance had started, so I had to grin and bear it. I was seated in the back of the auditorium, but the sound in the Schnitzer is exceptional, so I feel that this is a very good recording. The bass was a little muddled and the drums could have been louder and crisper, but Ornette's saxophone and the three basses created a shimmering blanket of melody and dissonance.
This performance featured Tony Falanga on upright-bass, Charnett Moffett on electric bass, Greg Cohen on acoustic bass, Ornette on alto sax, trumpet and violin and his son Denardo pounding the skins. When Ornette was playing the trumpet and Charnett's electric bass really started cookin', it made me feel like I was witnessing a live Miles Davis show in the late 60's Bitches Brew era.
I don't know the exact setlist, so please comment if you have information to share about this. I do know that the highlight for me was the evening closer "Lonely Woman" from The Shape of Jazz to Come. It was spectacular to hear this song that was originally created in 1959 come alive in the context of 2008. The audience recognized the song immediately from Ornette's moody alto sax intro and responded with fervent enhusiasm. What a fitting way to end an amazing night of intensely passionate and complex sound sculptures from the master of harmolodics.
I highly recommend that you download and listen to this performance as it is an accurate representation of the essence of free jazz in it's purest form. I haven't altered the sound of these recordings, except for softening the fade-out of the applause at the end of the show. Enjoy, and please let me know what you think of the show.
Coming up soon: Space Age Funk and International Mixes as well as Cecil Taylor live at Marriott Ballroom- PDX Jazz Fest