BELLS AND CHIMES
Ornette at 12
Impulse : 1968
OC, alto, violin; Dewey Redman, tenor; Charlie Haden, bass; Denardo Coleman (credited as “Ornette Denardo”), drums.
You’re going to like this or you’re not. But try not to be put off by the Curious Case of the Twelve-Year-Old Drummer; there’s more here than that red herring. Some great soloing by Dewey Redman, for one thing. Redman was at this point starting a wonderfully creative period, coming off of his own Look for the Black Star, and Ornette’s late ’60s Blue Note records, with Crisis and Keith Jarrett’s American Quartet on the horizon. His burry tone and muscular lines complement Ornette’s slender keen incredibly well. There is also some evocative violin playing from Ornette. (And with a 7-year-old violin student at home, we can confirm that, in at least one case, our kid could not do that.)
These performances feel very alive (as perhaps they should; one can hear the applause of a live audience throughout). Whether you think this is because of, or in spite of, or simply unrelated to Denardo’s presence — well, we sincerely welcome your thoughts on that in the comments. To our ears, the way he propels each tune here doesn’t sound all that different from the methods he employs nowadays. One might hope for a little less under Haden’s solo in “C.O.D.,” but his brashness overall seems entirely fitting with Ornette’s approach to music-making (as well as mischief-making).