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.

Many times it’s Uzeki simple chording or kinetic runs which set up the tunes. And it’s the keyboardist’s Blues progressions which meld most notably with Coleman’s high-pitched s squeals on “Celestial Conversations”. Further proof of this music’s variety is demonstrated on “Fortworth Funky Stomp” where the toughness not only come from full-out backbeat from Philly’s Gospel-Jazz drummer Justin Faulkner, but also from Uzeki’s chord progression and Kofi’s jagged tenor saxophone lead. Fort Worth native Coleman contributes peeps and trills that are more Ornette than Texan.

Elsewhere, on tracks like “East Wind”, Coleman’s strident reed tones make bluesy inroads into the mix, while otherwise balancing on the dancing timbres of Puschnig’s hojak and Kofi’s tenor’s deeper tones. Tacuma’s links to Rap get an airing on the first track when Wadud Ahmad vocally praises Coleman. Then again it’s probably Coleman’s voice which caustically responds to this panegyric of praise by stating: “Forget the notes, get to the ideas”. Coleman’s sing-song reed soloing, plus cross-pulsed flute lines and descending thumb pops from the bass guitarist confirm the music’s high status more than any verbal declaration.

Furthermore while the titles, of the final two tunes may honor the saxophonist and his famous Prince Street loft, the gratuitous addition of David “Fingers” Haynes’ finger drums plus what sound like Disco-era handclaps and foot stomps weakens the message. Only Tacuma’s slithering bass lines and some harmolodic riffing from Kofi save the piece. Overall, the most fully realized track is “Tacuma Song”, which appears to have been composed by the saxophonist alone. With the other horns gently riffing behind him plus finger-skidding from the bass guitarist, Coleman clearly defines his tune with a heart-wrenching altissimo squeal that is complemented by Uzeki’s Gospel-like cadenzas and Kofi’s pressurized reed snorts.

Tacuma may be leader here, but the most profound sounds throughout are made when Coleman asserts himself.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Journey 2. For The Love of Ornette 3. East Wind Movement 1 4. Drum & Space Movment 2* 5. Tacuma Song 6. Fortworth Funky Stomp Movement 3 7. Celestial Conversations Movement 1 8. Vibe on This OC Movment 2* 9. Celebration on Prince Street Movement 3*

Personnel: Ornette Coleman (alto saxophone); Tony Kofi (tenor saxophone); Wolfgang Puschnig (flute and hojak); Yoichi Uzeki (piano); Jamaaladeen Tacuma (bass guitar); Justin Faulkner (drums); David “Fingers” Haynes (finger drums) and Wadud Ahmad (spoken word)