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Sound Grammar

Ornette ColemanAudio CD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 12, 2006)
  • Original Release Date: 2006
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sound Grammar
  • ASIN: B000GFRE76
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,545 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Jordan (after introducing the band members)
2. Sleep Talking
3. Turnaround
4. Matador
5. Waiting for You
6. Call to Duty
7. Once Only

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

When so much jazz is recycled or reissued, a new Ornette Coleman album is cause for celebration. But Sound Grammar, the free-jazz legend's first release in a decade, is special even by his lofty standards. Coleman was 75 when this live-in-Italy set was recorded in 2005. But he sounds pluckier than he has in years. Pared down to its eloquent basics, the music has a rare combination of beauty, power, lift, and melodic immediacy. With two bassists providing contrasting textures and internal drama--Greg Cohen plucks his acoustic instrument while Tony Falanga bows his--Ornette plays with his usual songful brilliance on alto saxophone and also sounds great on trumpet, a secondary instrument on which he usually demonstrates yeoman skills. (He also dabbles on violin.) Sound Grammar could be better engineered--the astute catchall drumming of Ornette's son Denardo Coleman is too far back in the mix and the basses frequently don't have enough presence. But this album stands with Ornette's best. Two of the songs, "Turnaround" and "Song X," are remakes; the rest of the material is just as good. --Lloyd Sachs

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Return of Ornette Coleman!!!! September 12, 2006
Format:Audio CD
Jazz legend Ornette Coleman has returned with his first new album in over a decade, "Sound Grammar". Recorded live in Germany in October 2005, "Sound Grammar" is a major throwback to the sound that made Ornette famous in the late 1950's and early 1960's. Here, he performs the music in a stripped down quartet setting consisting of himself on alto sax, trumpet and violin, his son Denardo on drums and a dual bass section of Gregoary Cohen and Tony Falanga.
As you would expect, the performances are loaded with Ornette's freeform interplay with plenty of jolts and surprises. The opening track "Jordan" would not at all sound out of place alongside Ornette's classic album "The Shape of Jazz To Come" while "Sleep Talking" is a haunting mood piece that features an excellent spotlight on the two bassists - Tony Falanga is especially impressive with his ghostly bowed strokes.
Elsewhere on the album are intense moments such as those heard in "Matador" and "Waiting For You". "Once Only" is just plain bizarre with its sax lead lines that don't stick to any one key accompanied by equally meandering bass lines and rhythmless drumming.
The highlights of the album will no doubt have to be the two piece which will be familar to longtime Ornette followers. "Turnaround", while presented in a slightly different context here, is a classic Ornette blues originally from 1958. The rhythm is less straightforward here than on the original version and almost tends to go into doubletime without actually fully going into it. "Song X" was originally from 1985 and was the title track to his classic collaboration with guitar great Pat Metheny. Ornette's version here extends the piece to 10-minutes and includes great solo spots from everyone.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A welcome return. October 2, 2006
Format:Audio CD
For a moment in the mid-1990s, it looked as though Ornette Coleman, one of the visionaries of jazz, was entering a period of heightened activity-- no less than four albums were released in about 18 months and through his then-record label Harmolodic's partnership with Verve. Add to this several key reissues and it looked like a renaissance for Coleman-- but corporate mergers changed all this and the emphasis in jazz shifted from exploratory to "safe" and the seeming golden days of free jazz reissues and new Ornette Coleman albums came to a grinding halt.

A decade later, Coleman seems significantly more active, with a new band playing sporadic shows, including the one captured on "Sound Grammar", taken from a late 2005 show in Germany. For a luminary such as Coleman to release something new would alone be cause for celebration-- for that album to be fantastic (as this one is) makes it really special.

In case you're unfamiliar with Coleman-- Ornette Coleman, a Texas born alto saxophonist, stumbled upon something really new in jazz. A system by which the key and changes of the music become significantly less important, instead the moment of the music is what matters. This music, termed free jazz by the press and Harmolodics by Coleman, has propelled a career spanning nearly 50 years now, from the early classic quartet recordings to the electric free funk Coleman would later explore. His music is not for everyone-- it's lack of reliance of regular pattern can leave one hanging and his alto playing can often be rather angular, but Coleman in his own way is a natural extension of Charlie Parker and is being recognized for his accomplishments.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vital force in jazz October 17, 2006
Format:Audio CD
Of the few remaining legends in jazz, Ornette Coleman is the only one that doesn't record fairly often. Sonny Rollins had long running deal with Milestone before starting his own label, and Ornette has followed that route in starting his own imprint and releasing Sound Grammar, his first album in nine years and a recording of a concert from Germany in 2005 where he performed on alto saxophone, violin and trumpet with his son Denardo Coleman on drums, Gregory Cohen on bass, and Tony Falanga on bass. The music is classic Coleman with sweeping joyful arcs of alto on some reinterpretations of classics and a few new compositions.

"Jordan" leads things off with a choppy start-stop feel with Ornette improvising over bowed and plucked bass. There's an interlude where the two basses improvise together before Coleman contributes a few trumpet blasts. "Sleep Talking" begins with mournful bowed bass with some light alto sax comments. A bass duet over drums contributes a very open sound to the music. "Turnaround" has an almost "Saints Go Marching In" fell to the melody. Ornette has a gently sweeping solo over a bed of bass and drums. The group gets a beautifully unique sound with Ornette's keening alto and two basses. "Matador" takes things on a faster pace with some jaunty, smiling alto before two basses, both plucked, duke it out before Ornette sweeps back in and takes everybody out.

Both "Waiting" and "Once Only" convey a deep sense of plaintive loss and yearning with Coleman's saxophone nearly crying the blues in these deeply emotional performances. Contrasting those performances are a couple of free up-tempo numbers, "A Call To Duty" and Song X.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Ornette sounded sharp, bold, and convincing at 75
It looks like this might be Ornette Coleman's last music. He was 75 when it was recorded, live in Germany, in 2005. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Autonomeus
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding music from start to finish
This CD captures 4 musicians who seem to have a remarkable sense of telepathy with one another. Each is so comfortable "speaking" through his instrument that it is a small... Read more
Published 9 months ago by D. L. Russo
4.0 out of 5 stars STILL FRESH AT SEVENTY
Sound Grammar, recorded live in 2005 and released in 2006, is a reminder of how lucky we are to have had the opportunity to listen to Ornette Coleman's glorious compositions and... Read more
Published on January 29, 2011 by David Keymer
4.0 out of 5 stars Coleman is smokin on the record!
Two bassist, one bowed on plucked. On first listen this might sound like a mess but it works really well. Under Colemans bluesy,lyrical playing. The very fast drumming. Read more
Published on January 27, 2009 by bingeeboos
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting but apart from 3 cuts it's far from top rate Ornette
1. The sound quality is sometimes poor, particularly the drumset, with the sounds of the individual instruments merging together in an indistinct mess. Read more
Published on October 4, 2007 by James E. Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Pulitzer Prize Winning Album!
It was announced today that this album won the Pulitzer Prize for music. Congratulations Mr. Coleman!
Published on April 17, 2007 by TomoDachi212
2.0 out of 5 stars Switching Instruments
Coleman's play on different instruments showed a lot of skill, but the music seemed to lose some of its spontaneity in the process. Read more
Published on February 17, 2007 by Hearing Stillness
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a Coleman fan after all.
Thought Coleman was a different type of jazz musician than he is. If you want melody and mellow, forget Coleman. If you like dissonance, try him
Published on February 1, 2007 by Barbara L. Bedford
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Beautiful
The return of acoustic Ornette Coleman, beautifully recorded, a wonderfully intuitive and interactive band, and the leader playing as sweetly as he ever has in his life. Read more
Published on December 2, 2006 by Mark A. Horowitz
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!!!
6 stars would not be enough.

As a bass player, and a longtime Ornette fan, this is beyond some of my wildest dreams come true. Read more
Published on September 22, 2006 by Christopher K. Koenigsberg
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Topic From this Discussion
ornette coleman-sound grammar
live from a Netherlands appearence of fall 2005.Line up:OC,Denardo Coleman drums,Tony Falaga-Greg Cohen basses.Review on September 2006 isuue of The Wire
Aug 25, 2006 by Amazon Customer |  See all 2 posts
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