At last! SCIENCE FICTION on CD -- 24-bit mapped, and given the full Mosaic-style treatment by Michael Cuscuna. Included are 2 alternate takes and 1 never before released track from the original 1971 sessions, along with all the material from those sessions originally released in 1982 as BROKEN SHADOWS.
SCIENCE FICTION is the first Ornette record I heard, in 1975, and I still love it. Most of it sounds quite like the great Atlantic recordings of 1959-62, with Charlie Haden on bass, either Ed Blackwell or Billy Higgins on drums, and Don Cherry or Bobby Bradford on trumpet (and all 5 on some tracks). Dewey Redman, in Ornette's working band of the time, also plays on many of the tracks. The twist is that there are several vocal tracks -- the 2 with Asha Puthli, the female pop/classical singer from Bombay, are heartbreakingly beautiful. (Some critics did not approve, but they weren't listening!) The title track features the poet David Henderson, and it truly sounds like Science Fiction. Two more vocal tracks, from BROKEN SHADOWS, are more conventional, and frankly can be safely skipped. A highlight of the set is "Law Years," one of Ornette's best known and often covered compositions (by Old and New Dreams and Ken Vandermark, among others). The variety of styles and textures made the original SCIENCE FICTION, to me, Ornette's greatest accomplishment as a cohesive album. (Be aware that many critics disagreed.) There is a wrenching intensity to every track on the original album, the first 8 of the 19 collected here, making a statement greater than the sum of the individual pieces, a testimony to Ornette's compositional vision. It is interesting to find that "School Work" is the theme used in DANCING IN YOUR HEAD, Ornette's first electric Prime Time recording from 1976. That was to be Ornette's new direction following this work, so SCIENCE FICTION stands as the last great recording before Ornette's "Second Period."