Complete Albums Collection: 1958-1962
4CD, Box Set
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One of the most innovative, experimental and outlandish figures in American jazz, saxophonist Ornette Coleman dramatically altered the direction of the genre. A leading musician on the avant-garde scene, Coleman was among the pioneers of the free jazz movement, alongside Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and John Coltrane. His unconventional techniques, stark arrangements and unique playing style opened up a host of possibilities for what could be achieved in the field of jazz, and in so doing he earned himself a reputation that is as potent today as ever it was. This 4CD set compiles all eight Ornette Coleman albums released between 1958 and 1962, from his stunning debut Something Else, through to his final album with the Ornette Coleman Quartet, Ornette On Tenor. Featuring over five hours of music, remastered to the highest standard possible, this collection serves as both an excellent starting point for those new to this musical genius, and as a welcome reminder of Coleman s most acclaimed and respected era, from a career that lasted the best part of 70 years, ended only by the man s passing in 2015 at the age of 85.
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So why the great deals? Turns out that the large majority of Americans have stopped buying CDs last decade. While this is a tragic turn for the struggling jazz musician trying to earn a living, it is a real blessing for music lovers. Driven by the basic forces of (large) supply and (low) demand, music distributors are selling their stock at unbelievably low prices.
Ergo, jazz lovers are able to get multiple albums, combined in these collections, for one low price. Past the financial deals of these "box sets," I am a big fan of this series and the artists they are profiling. Most remarkably, many of the albums being "boxed" together have been previously difficult, if not impossible, to find on CD.
Today, if one wanted to assemble a formidable jazz library, one could do so for a few hundred bucks. And for that investment, you would have 500 (or so) of the most important jazz recordings from 50 (or so) of the most important jazz musicians of the 20th century. I only wish such deals were available to me when I was younger and spending thousands of dollars struggling to build my jazz library. For example, 20 years ago, I spent $20 just to buy Coleman's "Shape of Jazz to Come." Now, for half that much, you can get all 8 of Coleman's salient records on CD from 1958-62. Same for the historic recordings from Dizzy, Coltrane, Mingus, Rollins, Monk, and Art Blakey (just to name a few).
I know I am "old school" in wanting hard copies of these recordings. (Please, no need to tell me what my kids have been telling me for years). But, if you are like me, and you enjoy great jazz (primarily from the post-bop 60s) at a great price, you will not be disappointed. My jazz library has doubled in size and significance in the last few weeks thanks to these box sets/collections.
In my initial enthusiasm for this set I missed mentioning 2 problems with it. First, there is no personnel listing - I've gone online and obtained that for each album myself and made an insert to put in the box. Second, the albums are not in strict chronological order, I assume this was done due to the lengths of the albums to match up two for each disc. so the evolutionary process is a little skewed. Otherwise it remains a great trip from bebop to beyond.