Tuesday, December 27, 2011

246. The Shape of Jazz to Come- I hope it's a rhombus.

Album: The Shape of Jazz to Come
Artist: Ornette Coleman
Genre: Jazz
Year: 1959

1. Lonely Woman
2. Eventually
3. Peace
4. Focus on Sanity
5. Congeniality
6. Chronology

If you can find it, I recommend you hunt down an excellent BBC documentary called 1959 The Year that Changed Jazz. It documents four albums that were all released in the last year of the fifties that changed the face of Jazz Music forever. When I saw this outstanding program a few years back I was familiar with Kind of Blue (Miles Davis), Time Out (Dave Brubeck) and Mingus Au Um (Charles Mingus), all of which I'd been enjoying for years. But Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come had never crossed my path.

Like any good doco, The Year that Changed Jazz made me keen to find out more about the subject matter. I wanted to hear Ornette Coleman's greatest work. Partly out of curiosity but mainly because of Lou Reed's passionate tribute. Reed loves The Shape of Jazz to Come and when he talks about it his affection is contagious. It made me need to hear what the fuss was about.

Initially, most of the attention was directed at Coleman's aversion to "chord based instruments" (pianos, guitars etc) that were traditionally used to anchor melodies in place. He discarded the idea of conventional song structures with solo spots and allowed the four musicians in the quartet (sax, cornet, bass and drums) to effectively solo constantly with the occasional return to a musical theme. The end result could be a total shambles but it works. It succeeds mainly because Coleman and his band aren't just capable of a great solo they're capable of listening to each other, giving each other space and picking up on what the rest of the band is doing.

There's no doubt The Shape of Jazz to Come isn't for everyone but it's not just for musical odd-bods like Lou Reed. If you're willing to take a chance with music that breaks some of the rules you never even knew your music was fixed into, The Shape of Jazz to Come might just be what you need.

Influenced by: A desire to rebel from established structures.
Influenced: Anyone who played Free Jazz and Lou Reed (which means by extension it influenced everyone who was influenced by the Velvet Underground which seems to be everyone)

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "It sounds like a bunch of guys just honking there horns. lol. Im sorry its a free country you can honk ur horn but I thought I bought music. If you want to hear some real music check out Lady Gaga."

-Is this person really a Lady GaGa fan? Who knows. Did they say this in the hope that it would annoy jazz fans? Of course. And did it? Oh yes, yes it did.

So do you think Jazz is in good shape or not? Let me know below.

1 comment:

  1. Is this your new favourite jazz album? If not, wshat is?