!!! A DESTINATION: OUT EXCLUSIVE !!!
NEW COMPOSITION #1
NEW COMPOSITION #2
Ornette Coleman Quartet +1
Live at Carnegie Hall June 16, 2006
CD-R : 2006
OC, saxophone, trumpet, violin; Tony Falanga, acoustic bass; Greg Cohen, acoustic bass; Al MacDowell, electric bass; Denardo Coleman, drums.
We are incredibly pleased to present the first recordings of Ornette Coleman’s extraordinary new band – which features three bassists. In many ways, this group represents the culmination of Ornette’s musical journey, seamlessly blending elements of his acoustic music and his experiments in classical forms and textures with his abiding sense of funk. It’s simply jaw-dropping stuff.
We thank the anonymous soul who recorded Ornette’s recent Carnegie Hall gig and slipped the results under our door to share with everyone. These recordings are surprisingly clear and, despite the pervasive room tone, you can get a good sense of the band’s singular drive and dynamics. One hopes official recordings of this group will be released soon. They’re already a significant part of jazz history.
A few quick words about the tracks: This version of Ornette’s timeless classic “Lonely Woman” is spine-tingling. Even more spellbinding and haunting than the original. Love the Middle Eastern tonalities. (It was the concert’s encore.) “New Composition #1″ showcases the band in breakneck mode. There’s a wickedly twisted melody, screaming duet between Ornette and bassist Falanga, and then a brief trumpet solo. The climax arrives with Ornette’s fiery violin solo. Forget Ornette Plays Tenor, where’s Ornette Plays Violin?!? “New Composition #2″ is an incredibly nuanced performance of a bittersweet ballad that seems to allude at one point to the “Star Spangled Banner.” Note Falanga’s weeping bowed bass and Al MacDowell’s pitch-perfect, guitar-like chordal accompaniment.
For more information about Ornette’s new group, we now turn over the page to the estimable Harry Lime(wire):
Like J. D. Salinger or the late Stanley Kubrick, Ornette maintains a veil of mystery and reclusiveness around himself.ï¿½ The last 10 years has been the longest period in his career without a new album. But, as evidenced by his most recent performances at Carnegie Hall, in 2004 and 2006, his creative genius and artistic drive have not laid fallow.
Ornette first unveiled his two bass quartet in 2004 and showed that he could still provide audiences with a revelation made of pure sound. Denser and more idiosyncratic than I could have imagined, the music was strong stuff – a 200-proof distillation of the harmolodic concept he’d been developing for the past 50 years. As the band seamlessly wove their way through a dozen or so songs, each one bleeding into the next, I began to feel that maybe not since the original quartet, had a group of musicians better understood how to speak in his musical language.
Denardo Coleman’s de facto inclusion in Ornette’s group, long ago a novelty, has evolved into a sublime player, contributing a swirling collage of contrapuntal rhythms. He seems like his father’s familiar – quiet and observant, one step ahead of his every intention. But, most fascinating was Ornette’s choice of two relatively unknown but seasoned “studio” upright bassists to complete the other half of his new band.
In every way they seem polar opposites: Greg Cohen is a tall, laconic Los Angeles native. His playing is just as relaxed, even on the most fleet of tempos. He plays pizzicato almost exclusively – rooted and full bodied – but never solos. On the other side of the stage resides Tony Falanga, a stocky and intense Brooklynite who employs a virtuoso arco technique. Falanga’s voice is more prominent and he’ll often double Ornette on melodies.
Cohen’s main claim to fame is as a member of Tom Waits’ band from the 70s through the 90s. A list of his other gigs reads like a typical studio musician’s resume: Elvis Costello, Willie Nelson, Tricky, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts, Donovan, Crystal Gayle, Bob Dylan, Richie Havens and Lou Reed. Falanga studied classical bass at Julliard and jazz at Berklee College of Music. His credits include the New York Concertino, the Tchaikovsky Chamber Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis and Jim Hall.
The point is this: these two career accompanists combine to provide Ornette with first-rate chops and ego-less, almost telepathic support. One can easily see them as embodying the best qualities of Ornette’s two favorite bass players – Charlie Haden and David Izenzon.
For his 2006 Carnegie Hall appearance, even before the concert began Ornette proved that he was not done experimenting. Standing on the stage along with the two upright basses was an electric bass. Ever wondered what band needs three basses? The answer is, clearly, every band. Although a last minute addition (he didn’t make it into the program), Prime Time veteran Al MacDowell brought everything full circle. Here was the missing link in Ornette’s sonic evolution.
And there’s a revealing interview with Coleman over at Bill Shoemaker’s estimable Point of Departure journal, which originally ran in JazzTimes on the occasion of the release of OC’s last proper album… in 1995. Ornette on the subject of the “caste system in sound”:
When you think of classical, jazz, folk, or ethnic music, most people think in racial terms rather than in descriptions of what they like. You don’t describe things you like by race; you describe them with the words that show how you recognize what it is and who put it together. But in music, rock represents white, jazz represents black, classical music represents Europeans, and on down the line. But all the music that’s played in America is really played with the same exact notes that come from the European system. It’s five years from the year 2000 and I don’t think any ethnic group, regardless of how it relates to its and past and its roots, is getting their full freedom of expression in this system.