Jazz CD Reviews
Ornette Coleman – Sound Grammar – Sound Grammar
Published on May 1, 2007
(Ornette Coleman, sax/violin/trumpet; Denaro Coleman, drums/percussion; Gregory Cohen & Tony Falanga, doublebasses)
Coleman’s first album in over a decade is also his first live recording in two decades, and was instrumental in the pioneering saxophonist having just been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music. The CD was also nominated for a Grammy for “Best Jazz Instrumental Album by an Individual or Group.” The group is not your usual quartet – with Ornette’s son on drums, the other half of it consists of two basses – one bowed and the other plucked. Another good workout for your subwoofer(s).
The eight compositions of Coleman continue his iconoclastic approach to avantgarde jazz and are perhaps the best he has ever penned. The works are hard-edged wails and cries of exultant energy, but there are usually some melodic hooks and patterns to hang onto which make the music more accessible. It’s not going off in multiple directions all at once like most free jazz/loft jazz. I would say Ornette’s music is to free jazz what Alban Berg is to most 12-tone music; there’s a strong emotional content here and a progression that the ear can follow. While I sort of miss the two-horn front line duo sound he used to have with Don Cherry, the differing timbres of the two string basses certainly provide a rumbling variety of backing to Ornette’s alto sax. The ballad Sleep Talking provides a respite from the aggressive sound on other tracks, and Turnaround is more of a identifiable easy blues feeling. The fidelity is fine. Two short paragraphs from Coleman on the Grammar of Sound being universal is all that is provided in the way of album notes.
TrackList: Jordan, Sleep Talking, Turnaround, Matador, Waiting for You, Call to Duty, Once Only, Song X.
– John Henry