The Dozens

Ornette Coleman
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).

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10 Responses to The Dozens

  1. Awesome! I had no idea this album existed… “Ornette’ and ‘out of print’ should not go together… and this came out on Impulse? Has this ever been on CD? Where’s the deluxe reissue? Seriously though, i’ve only heard ‘The Empty Foxhole’ fairly recently and i’ve loved hearing Ornette play with Denardo… addressing what you say above, i may be projecting but i do think that there is something special about hearing Ornette play with his son… that familial love is there, in both Ornette and Denardo’s playing… it’s just so ‘right’… wish they had recorded together more and wish that what they did record was more readily available.

  2. Hell, I love Denardo’s early drumming. That’s what makes this record (as well as “Crisis” and “Empty Foxhole”) so special. Sure, great band otherwise (is that an understatement?), but Denardo brings a real energy and joy of life to his playing that is sorely lacking in so many drummers. There’s a real Sunny Murray feel as well, and I find it invigorating and inspiring. I was thrilled to see him with Prime Time, and also on the 80/81 tour, where he more than held his own with Jack DeJohnette. His work with Jayne Cortez is also stellar…and lest we forget, perhaps his best drumming of all is on Blood Ulmer’s “Tales of Captain Black.” Kudos for Denardo!

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