JJ 08/62: Ornette Coleman – Ornette!

Sixty years ago, Kennedy Brown found Ornette Coleman's music one innovation to which he couldn't become accustomed. First published in Jazz Journal August 1962


With what I can only describe as a note of desperation in his voice the editor of this magazine called me on the telephone and asked: “Will you review the new Ornette Coleman?” Be­cause I had had a particularly good lunch that day, I agreed.

But, in all fairness, I should point out that the reviewer in “Down Beat” gives the disc a rating of four-and-a-half stars and says: “Coleman’s music should no longer be ‘difficult’ for any but the most obdurate listeners. While this album hardly qualifies as back­ground jazz for living-room conversa­tion, it contains emotionally direct, un­cluttered, essentially simple music no harder to grasp than, say, the free guitar improvisations of a good country blues player.”

Certainly I agree that you can become accustomed to a style of music. The recent Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gil­lespie reissues don’t sound very weird today but I remember how startled I was when I heard them way back in the forties!

But I don’t want to “grasp” Cole­man’s music . . . and if this is what jazz is going to sound like in a few years’ time then I hope I won’t still be listening to new records.

And if you think I’m not with it I refer you back to the “Down Beat” review which says: “Superior jazz . . . if you’ve been putting off the investiga­tion of Coleman’s music, this is a good place to make the plunge. It won’t hurt a bit”.

Just you try it!

W.R.U.; T.& T. (21 min) – C. &D.; R.P.D.D. (24 min)
Ornette Coleman (alt); Don Cherry (tpt); Scott LaFaro (bs); Ed Blackwell (d).
(London LTZ-K 15421 12inLP 35s. 9d.)