Reviews that mention Ornette Coleman

January 1, 2019

Jazz Worlds/World Jazz

Edited by Philip Bohlman/Goffredo Plastino
University of Chicago Press

By Ken Waxman

From its very beginnings in the African American communities of the 20th century, through is subsequent spread throughout the United States and world-wide, the definition of what constitutes jazz has been as slippery as trying to hold onto a handful of Jell-O. Imagine then the conundrum that exists when the concept of jazz arrives in other counties and takes on other identities as locals players strive to adapt it. This nearly 500-page volume presents the work of 18 academics exploring this interface between jazz and musical cultures in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. MORE

March 22, 2016

Microgroove: Forays into Other Music

John Corbett
Duke University Press

By Ken Waxman

Searching for the equivalent of a travel guide to the often uncharted territories of turn-of-the-century, so-called other music should lead to this volume. A collection of essays, interviews and reviews written between 1990 and 2014, Microgroove outlines the achievements of many of the progenitors and disseminators of non-mainstream music during that epoch. A Chicago-based music writer, concert promoter, art curator and record producer, John Corbett has been intimately involved with variants of what he describes as “music that demands a different mode of listening” for decades. Like an embedded anthropologist studying the culture of particular tribes Corbett is also able to place these sonic advances in a global context. MORE

February 11, 2016

Paul Bley

A Modern Jazz Piano Master
By Ken Waxman

Paul Bley who died at 83 in early January was probably never bothered that he was usually described as Canada’s second best-known jazz pianist; Oscar Peterson was the first. But Bley, who shared a Montreal birth with Peterson, and who similarly was honored with induction into the Order of Canada in 2008 – albeit 30 plus years after Peterson – was for all intents and purposes a much more radical pianist than O.P. Peterson, seven years Bley’s senior, was a flamboyant stylist who adapted Art Tatum’s all-encompassing swing era techniques to the structure of modern jazz during an almost incalculable number of performances from the late 1940s until his death in 2007. However Bley, represented on more than 100 discs during his career, cycled through a variety of keyboard strategies from the outgoing to the cerebral, eventually matching the atonality of off-centre techniques with straightforward, melodically measured motion. He was also one of the first serious improvisers to deal with the sonic possibilities that could be extracted from the then brand-new portable Moog synthesizer. Later, such better-known pianists as Keith Jarrett, The Bad Plus’ Ethan Iverson and Satoko Fujii developed their playing following the examples of Bley’s breakthroughs. MORE

December 11, 2015

Lest We Forget

Gunther Schuller
By Ken Waxman

During his long professional career Gunther Schuller, who died this past June and was born November 22, 1925, was a French horn player, composer, conductor, author, university professor, record company and orchestra founder, festival administrator and conservatory president, whose associates included Aaron Copeland, John Lewis and Charles Mingus. But for certain segments of the music world he’s best-known for a phrase he coined during a 1957 lecture at Brandeis University: Third Stream. While his idea of uniting the streams of jazz and classical music into a tributary that melded influences from both was initially greeted with derision, nearly a half-century later cross over between the two is increasingly common. MORE

June 6, 2015

In Print

The Battle of the Five Spot: Ornette Coleman and the New York Jazz Field
David Neil Lee (Wolsak and Wynn)

By Ken Waxman

Ornette Coleman’s 1959-1960 engagements at the Five Spot Café has since passed into jazz mythology not so much because it gave the alto saxophonist’s quartet its first prolonged NYC exposure, but also because it demonstrated that Coleman’s free jazz had to be taken seriously by the jazz world. Taking his cue from French-based philosophical tropes, author David Lee situates Coleman’s Five Spot appearance within its time, noting that the controversy surrounding those gigs plus the saxophonist’s subsequent acceptance owed as much to extra-musical as musical circumstances. Coleman arrived out of jazz nowhere and became a “star” because his supporters had stronger cultural bona fides than his detractors. MORE

March 13, 2015

Ornette Coleman

New Vocabulary
System Dialing SDR #009

By Ken Waxman

Maverick as he has been throughout his career, alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman, who personifies Experimental Jazz and won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2007, has released a new disc with little fanfare. Recorded in 2009, Coleman’s first CD since 2006, and first studio session since 1996, New Vocabulary doesn’t feature the acoustic two-basses-and-drums quartet with which the reedist has been touring for a decade. Instead Coleman improvises alongside trumpeter and electronic manipulator Jordan McLean, drummer Amir Ziv, and, on three of the 12 tracks, pianist Adam Holzman. Although his name is neither on the cover nor attributed on the un-credited songs, the idiosyncratic titles are classic Coleman-speak. MORE

March 8, 2015

Topless Cellist The Improbable Life of Charlotte Moorman

Joan Rothfuss
The MIT Press.

By Ken Waxman

A commitment to experimental music of any sort is usually a short cut to obscurity, poverty and disdain. However during her short life (1933-1991), and especially in the 1960s and 1970s, cellist Charlotte Moorman was as famous as anyone associated with non-mainstream music could be. Vivacious and determined, Little Rock, Ark.-born Moorman was a guest on popular TV shows hosted by the likes of Johnny Carson, received regular coverage in major publications and was the guiding force behind New York’s annual multi-media Avant Garde Festival from 1963 to 1980. As author Joan Rothfuss writes: “it would become her mission to bring experimental art to an audience as broad as any that Hollywood could command.” MORE

January 20, 2012

Rhapsody's 2011 Jazz Critics' Poll

Individual Ballot
From Ken Waxman

1) Your name and primary affiliation(s) (no more than two, please)

2) Ken Waxman

Jazz Word ( )

3) Your choices for 2011's ten best new releases (albums released between Thanksgiving 2010 and Thanksgiving 2011, give or take), listed in descending order one-through-ten.

1. World Saxophone Quartet Yes We Can Jazzwerkstatt JW 098

2. Gerald Cleaver Uncle June Be It As I See It Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT-375

3. Hubbub Whobub Matchless MRCD 80 MORE

November 20, 2011

Jamaaladeen Tacuma/Ornette Coleman

For the Love of Ornette
JazzWerkstatt JW 090

More than the love of Ornette is present on this unheralded but superior disc by bass guitarist Jamaaladeen Tacuma. Coleman, the 81-year-old Jazz innovator is here himself on most tracks. As a result the unmistakable tart tone of Coleman’s alto saxophone and rhythmically simple harmolodics themes endow this funk-tinged session with a welcome individuality.

Coleman’s presence shouldn’t be a surprise, since Philadelphia-native Tacuma was one of the linchpins of the saxophonist’s legendary Prime Time electric band from the age of 19. Since then the bass guitarist has collaborated with players from Japan, Korea, Europe and the Middle East, recorded with such disparate stylists as funk guitarist Vernon Reid and Free Music guitarist Derrick Bailey, and performed with Hip Hop groups. Tacuma’s interests are on display here, as are the diverse histories of other soloists. There’s Nottingham-born tenor saxophonist Tony Kofi, an ex-Jazz Warrior, and Slovenian Wolfgang Puschnig on flute and hojak, best-known for his long membership in the Vienna Art Orchestra. Tokyo-born Yoichi Uzeki is a frequent collaborator with the bass guitarist in New York. MORE

July 17, 2011

Music Is Rapid Transportation

Edited by Daniel Kernohan
Charivari Press

Traveling the Spaceways

Sun Ra, the Astro Black and other Solar Myths Paper

Edited by John Corbett, Anthony Elms and Terri Kapsalis

White Walls/University of Chicago Press

To be informative and useful, books on music must be conceived of through a combination of enthusiasm and expertise. Too much of the former and the publication slides into salivating hagiography; too much of the later and it becomes a dry, pedagogical discourse. Luckily both these volumes avoid the obvious pitfalls, but there are times when extraneous or superfluous material affects both. MORE

July 7, 2011

Festival Report:

Moers Festival June 10 to 12, 2011
By Ken Waxman

Ornette Coleman’s performance at Germany’s Moers Festival was the surprise birthday present celebrating the 40th anniversary of Moers, which takes place annually in this town, about 50 miles from Cologne. Announced earlier, cancelled, and rescheduled, the jazz legend’s performance wasn’t even noted in the official program. Appearing on the fest’s final night, Coleman’s quartet turned in a suitably magisterial set, with the leader, dapper in a suit, infusing his tongue flutters and altissimo reed cries with genuine emotion. Segueing through short selections including classics like “Dancing in Your Head” and “Lonely Woman”, the alto saxophonist’s lines swooped, swerved and sighed, bringing a distinct country blues sensibility to everything he played. MORE