on 8 November 2006
This live session is full of beautiful music, music that is so honest and truthful in places it just breaks your heart.
Ornette Coleman's tone and attack are wonderful throughout. The harmonies go right to the heart of what he wants to put across. Greg Cohen's bowed bass line and Tony Falanga's picked, walking bass lines provide a superb accompaniment to Ornette Coleman's outstanding choice of notes, not least because of Denardo Coleman's sparse yet emphatic drumming. 'Waiting For You' immediately comes to mind as an example...
I don't think I have heard as exquisite a session as this for over a decade.
Coleman's younger contemporaries should take note that the occasional imperfect note does not detract from the whole - the heartfelt beauty of the music.
They should also note that although he's 76 now, Coleman never let his technique be the end and be all of his playing - as some I can name. His technique is there to convey what he wants to say - and he still has an immense amount to tell us.
I have not liked everything he has done, but it has alwasy struck me how melodic his compositions are - never mind how he breaks them up playing or how quickly he plays them, sometimes so fast you really don't know what it is you've heard.
The only time I felt disappointed was when he came to Ronnie Scott's with his violin and trumpet only, but he plays these instruments here the way he plays his alto - wonderful...
I think this is absolutely great music that you will never tire of, even when you think you have finally assimilated it; it is so emotionally true.
This magnificent concert was recorded in Ludwigshafen, Germany in October, 2005 when Ornette Coleman was, astonishingly, in his 76th year. 'Sound Grammar' is his first CD in 10 years and it's fast becoming my favourite album since the classic 1965 trio sessions 'At The Golden Circle, Stockholm' with David Izenzon and Charles Moffett(see my review).
Ornette employs two superb bassists here, Gregory Cohen and Tony Falanga, who combine effectively while his son, Denardo drives things along nicely on drums.
Old and new songs are featured with Ornette playing imaginatively and melodically on alto sax, with occasional colourful bursts of trumpet and violin. The beautifully recorded 'Sound Grammar' is a joyous, uplifting album which should delight his fans and also make an ideal introduction for anyone unfamiliar with Ornette's music.
Ornette Coleman, who is the proud possessor of quite possibly my favourite name of any jazz musician (except Thelonious Sphere Monk, naturally) has made, at the age of 76, one of the most compellingly splendid albums of his long and dignified career.
Sound Grammar - he`s always been good at titles - consists of seven tracks, three of them achingly lovely slower tunes. After the compere`s mercifully brief intro, the opening swift and mercurial Jordan is followed by the gorgeous Sleep Talking, a number you`ll want to listen to for hours.
The great thing about Ornette is that, whatever music he chooses to make, he rarely forgets to be lyrical. As another reviewer implies, the New Orleans street parade is never far from his music, and there`s usually a keening sweetness tempering even his wildest excursions. There are a few rampant, abandoned passages on this disc, mainly on the faster tracks, but overall one is captivated by a resplendent beauty, a kind of distillation of decades of making groundbreaking but invariably melodic jazz. "Is it jazz?" I don`t think it matters any more; surely we can simply call it music and forget the dogmas of genre. (Of course it`s jazz!)
Ornette plays sax - the `real` variety, having now seemingly forsaken his toy sax of many years` deployment - as well as trumpet & violin, with his son Denardo sensitive and superb on drums & percussion, and a duo of basses: Greg Cohen & Tony Falanga, who work well together.
The gratifyingly lengthy album ends with Song X, an Ornette `hit`, and it`s good to hear it again. The group sound pleased to be playing it too.
I can only say that, if you are at all into the kind of music you`re unlikely to hear on almost any radio station - other than late at night on R3 perhaps - then do please make sure you listen to Ornette in his golden-autumn years. The man`s 82 now, and it will be a sombre day when he... but no, the man is alive as anyone or anything, and still making wonderful music.
on 1 February 2007
No exageration. This has to be one of the greatest jazz records ever made. I like most of Ornette's output throughout 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. This is like a summary. Even though its essentially acoustic it has jazz skits, blues cries, country themes, classic resonances and basically some of the most moving pieces of music I have heard.