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Ornette`s sleep-talking sax,
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This review is from: Sound Grammar (Audio CD)
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.