- Audio CD (January 8, 2002)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, Extra tracks
- Label: Emd/Blue Note
- ASIN: B00005UOJR
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,453 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
At The Golden Circle Vol. 2
Audio CD | Extra Tracks, Reissued, Remastered
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At The Golden Circle Vol. 2 (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition)
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Here is an often-overlooked gem of a session, recorded in 1965 as Coleman returned from three years of isolation after revolutionizing jazz in large and in detail on his legendary quartet recordings on Atlantic. Habituated to cries of execration, he now played trumpet and violin in a manner as idiosyncratic as--and more roughly schooled than--his already out-there alto saxophone approach. On this date, his Stockholm accompanists are in complete synch with the refracted logic of Coleman's serpentine, yelping-spirit style. David Izenson's singing, independently minded bass playing prompts Coleman along his peripatetic way. Charles Moffett relishes any opportunity to break out into drum-corps rataplan, but overall he provides a sheet of ride cymbal and snare that grounds his wandering partners. --Peter Monaghan
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OC, alto sx, viol, tpt; David Izenson, b; Charles Moffett, dr.
COLEMAN, Ornette. Croydon Concert. Free Factory. Recorded, 1965; re-released 2008.
Cut 1: Virtuoso Ensemble (John Burden, fr hn; Edward Walker, flt; Derek Wickens, oboe; Sidney Fell, clari; Cecil James, bassoon) Cuts 2-8: OC, alto sx, viol, tpt; David Izenson, b; Charles Moffett, dr.
By 1965, the edge of strangeness had worn off of Ornette Coleman's music. His compositions had appealed from the very start but his playing -the odd tonality as much as the odd jumps and side slips in his solo lines--had many fewer advocates at the tail end of the fifties. His compositions were obviously brilliant but it wasn't all that clear whether he could play his instrument well. Of course he could! He just played differently, and once people adjusted to his quirky, distinctive tonality, all that changed. In 1965, Ornette emerged from a period of retreat from the music scene with perhaps his most powerful and innovative group, a trio with modernists David Izenson on bowed as well as plucked string bass and long time friend Charles Moffett playing drums. These three albums show how great that group was and how glorious a music they made together.
I bought Golden Circle, volume 2, when it came out. It was brilliant. But I had left it with the feeling that I was listening to two virtuosos-Ornette on alto, Izenson on string bass- assisted ably but not brilliantly by a good drummer -modern but no standout. When I listened to these three albums with fresh ears, I discovered I was wrong. Moffett is brilliant too. His accompanying and soloing lie somewhere between the playing of the best of the beat-conscious drummers --like, say, Max Roach or Roy Haynes-- and the free drumming of a Sunny Murray, Philip Wilson or Beaver Harris. How sensitive an accompanist he could be is clear on the intriguingly structured "Silence," recorded at Croydon. It is piece with long silences built into it; no one plays a note for seconds, then Coleman, and then Coleman, Izenson and Moffett reenter, and they're off again, and then dead silence reigns again, over and over until Ornette finally emerges into solo. It's a brilliant performance of a difficult piece: the three artists negotiate the tune's twisted path with ease and brio. The other piece that blows my mind is "Faces and Places" -there are two versions of it-- from Golden Circle, vol. 1. On the first version, which is eleven and a half minutes long, Ornette solos with great fire for about eight minutes. A killer drum solo by Moffett follows and then Ornette rides in for the final minute and a half.
Over all, the music on the Croydon set is slower paced, a little though not a lot less fiery than the material recorded in Stockholm. Furthermore, twenty-five minutes of the Croydon Concert are expended on a playing of Ornette's "Forms and Sounds for Wind Quintet," which may or may not be interesting but isn't why I picked up the album.
I bought it because Coleman is simply one of the great geniuses of jazz and his compositions and playing are miracles of creation, as he proves again on these three exciting albums.
Today, jazz is still vital, though fragmented, and profoundly unpopular, residing somewhere between personal responsibility and moral integrity on the mass appeal spectrum. The molten Velveeta cheese pumped through pipes throughout the nation referred to as "smooth jazz" bears as much resemblance to actual jazz as a lightning bug resembles lightning. This is music for people too cheap to buy opium. On the other extreme is music so avante garde (a phrase which assumes the garde will eventually catch up, which may not occur in this case) as to thoroughly alienate the jazz diehards who swung with Cab Calloway and hoped that jazz would evolve in a comforting way.
Ornette Coleman was not single-handedly responsible for this schism, but it would be hard to find a practitioner who reveled more enthusiastically in driving a stake through the heart of jazz that was "safe, comfortable, and predictable." Even fans who had bravely hung in there with Bird, and even Trane, found Coleman simply too annoying to be worth the trouble. Instead of retreating, Coleman took possession of this neighborhood, gleefully embracing it. In earlier efforts, like The Shape Of Jazz To Come, Coleman showcased his virtuosity in a way that was simultaneously elegant and challenging. In Stockholm he seems intent on offending, being weird, and always going left when every street sign points to the right. (His violin playing alone tells this story emphatically.)
Coleman is a truly great artist, and great art has many responsibilities. One is to be beautiful. One is to be true. One is to inspire. One is to challenge. In the process of challenging, great art frequently offends. (Many lesser practitioners believe that to offend is to be great, which is ludicrous. Much of what is called art is merely vacuously offensive.) This CD, and its companion, conveniently entitled Volume 1, are horses of a very different stripe, or zebras of a very different color.
By kicking the piano out of the family and abandoning any semblance of traditional "song" structure, Coleman created his own musical universe. This is fearless, uncompromising, demented music that makes absolutely no attempt to be accessible. Even among jazz aficionados it was marginalized, if not condemned. When you accept that every note Coleman plays he plays on purpose, and that he has an adventurous spirit Lewis and Clark might have admired, you will find this music fascinating and richly satisfying. The moment it starts to grate on your nerves, imagine how much poorer we would all be if we lived in a world where there was no one intrepid enough to imagine and perform it.