Complete 1968 Italian Tour CD, Import
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The Material Collected for this 2-CD Set Corresponds to the February 1968 European Tour, featuring the Coleman's Quartet with his Regular Unusual Group Inclufing David Izenzon and Charlie Haden on Bass, and Ed Blackwell on Drums. The First CD Includes the Rome Concert, with Extended Versions of Four Original Compositions, Including a Fantastic Interpretation of the Already Popular "Lonely Woman." The Second CD Includes the Milan's Teatro Lirico Performances, with Three Original Compositions. The Sum of this Material on One Edition, Makes this an Essential Release, Capturing a Crucial Period of the Career of an Artist that Without a Doubt, Remains the Ultimate Contemporary Musician of the Jazz Vanguard.
The Rome show is sonically the superior of the two-- it's clean with a relatively even balance, although the basses sometimes get a bit muddle and indistinct. My guess is it's a poorly recorded radio broadcast. Four titles are performed, the first two ("Lonely Woman" and "Monsieur le Prince") with Coleman on alto, "Forgotten Children" finds the leader on trumpet and "Buddha Blues" puts him on shenai, a Middle Eastern reed. The latter is most intriguing as I can't think of a single issued recording featuring Coleman on the instrument, which seems to inspire him to a frantic improv, pushed forth by a simply fantastic arco counterpoint from one bass over a fiercely swinging rhythm. "Forgotten Children" feels related to "Just For You" and ends up with a laid-back theme and a more aggressive improvisation from the leader, whose rather unique trumpet technique is on display. The two tracks with Coleman on alto though are the real gems on this disc-- "Lonely Woman", taken an octave lower than the classic recording on "The Shape of Jazz to Come", is energetic and powerful, with Coleman performing brilliantly over a delicate wash of support from the basses. "Monsieur le Prince" is a bouncey, chirping theme and proves to be essentially an alto feature in the form of any number of up-tempo Coleman compositions.
The second disc, recorded at the Teatro Lirico in Milan, is quite a bit less appealing from a sonic standpoint. This has all the clear hallmarks of an audience recording-- that fuzzy theater sound to it, although the audience seems to be dead silent, which leads me to wonder whether the source was not a poorly dubbed broadcast. Three pieces, all of which The opener, "Tutti", a piece that I (and for that matter Jamaaladeen Tacuma) have always thought of as "Dancing in Your Head" (due to its prominent placement on that album) gets an extended (23 minute) reading, with Coleman ecstatically stating the theme and then entering into an extended solo of enormous inventiveness. But trumping him is a bass dialog where one bassist seems to enter in theme variation and the other responds to him. "Three Wisemen and the Saint" is a bluesy, explosive piece, with Coleman digging deep and pulling out all the stops in the sort of improvisation that is usually associated with free jazz, frantic energy, upper register expositions and even occasional overblows make their way into his performance. This kind of performance is somewhat unusual for Coleman and is really intriguing to hear. The closer, "New York", is a slow blues, Coleman plays a brief solo before turning over to an arco solo that is just absolutely lovely and lush, and quite frankly worth the cost of the entire set.
The performances on these CDs is fantastic, but it is important to note these are repackaged (and perhaps still) bootlegs. Sonically, this is not anywhere near a professional sounding recording. If you can deal with that, these are fine shows to have, otherwise save this for the hardcore collectors.
Esp. for one who had never heard Ornette's music from this era ('68) apparently I'd been missing his most vibrant music. I didn't think it was possible!
If you haven't heard this yet, you need to. that's all I can tell you, it's incredible.