Sunday, July 14, 2013

something else !!!!

Ornette Coleman found expression for his unorthodox tonal style with this radical blues bebop.  His improvisation rubbed people the wrong way from the start, getting him kicked out of his high school band; and later, after a show in Baton Rouge, he was physically beaten and his tenor saxophone was destroyed.  He switched to alto saxophone and moved to Los Angeles where he ended up working as an elevator operator at a department store while pursuing his music.  With his penchant for stretching notes as far as they would go, many of his contemporaries considered his playing to be out of tune.  He brought some of his compositions to Lester Koenig of Contemporary Records; but the tunes were too much for other musicians and Coleman was invited to record them himself.  'Something Else !!!!'  was produced by Koenig with Don Cherry on trumpet, Walter Norris on piano, Don Payne on double bass, Billy Higgins on drums, and Ornette Coleman on his white plastic alto saxophone.  

Coleman would later reflect on the evolution his musical perspective:    "The idea is that two or three people can have a conversation with sounds, without trying to dominate it or lead it. What I mean is that you have to be...intelligent, I suppose that's the word. In improvised music I think the musicians are trying to reassemble an emotional or intellectual puzzle, in any case a puzzle in which the instruments give the tone. It's primarily the piano that has served at all times as the framework in music, but it's no longer indispensable and, in fact, the commercial aspect of music is very uncertain. Commercial music is not necessarily more accessible, but it is limited...Let's suppose that we're in the process of playing and you hear something that you think could be improved; you could tell me, 'You should try this.' For me, music has no leader...I don't know if it's true for language, but in jazz you can take a very old piece and do another version of it. What's exciting is the memory that you bring to the present. What you're talking about, the form that metamorphoses into other forms, I think it's something healthy, but very rare...Repetition is as natural as the fact that the earth rotates...I was in the South when minorities were oppressed, and I identified with them through music. I was in Texas, I started to play the saxophone and make a living for my family by playing on the radio. One day, I walked into a place that was full of gambling and prostitution, people arguing, and I saw a woman get stabbed—then I thought that I had to get out of there. I told my mother that I didn't want to play this music anymore because I thought that I was only adding to all that suffering. She replied, 'What's got hold of you, you want somebody to pay you for your soul?' I hadn't thought of that, and when she told me that, it was like I had been re-baptized...She was an intelligent woman. Ever since that day I've tried to find a way to avoid feeling guilty for doing something that other people don't do...Bebop had emerged and I saw it as a way out. It's an instrumental music that isn't connected to a certain scene, that can exist in a more normal setting. Wherever I was playing the blues, there were plenty of people without jobs who did nothing but gamble their money. Then I took up bebop, which was happening above all in New York, and I told myself that I had to go there. I was just about 17 years old, I left home and headed for the South...I had long hair like the Beatles, this was at the beginning of the Fifties. So I headed for the South, and just like the police, black people beat me up on top of everything, they didn't like me, I had too bizarre a look for them. They punched me in the face and demolished my sax. That was hard. Plus, I was with a group that played what we called 'minstrel pipe-music', and I tried to do bebop, I was making progress and I got myself hired. I was in New Orleans, I was going to see a very religious family and I started to play in a 'sanctified' church—when I was little, I played in church all the time. Ever since my mother said those words to me, I was looking for a music that I could play without feeling guilty for doing something. To this day I haven't yet found it...When I arrived in New York, I was more or less treated like someone from the South who didn't know music, who couldn't read or write, but I never tried to protest that. Then I decided that I was going to try to develop my own conception, without anybody's help. I rented the Town Hall on 21 December 1962, that cost me $600, I hired a rhythm and blues group, a classical group and a trio. The evening of the concert there was a snowstorm, a newspaper strike, a doctors' strike and a subway strike, and the only people who came were those who had to leave their hotel and come to the city hall. I had asked someone to record my concert and he committed suicide, but someone else recorded it, founded his record company with it, and I never saw him again. All that made me understand once again that I had done that for the same reason that I had told my mother that I didn't want to play down there anymore. Obviously, the state of things from the technological, financial, social and criminal point of view was much worse than when I was in the South. I was knocking on doors that stayed closed...Before becoming known as a musician, when I worked in a big department store, one day, during my lunch break, I came across a gallery where someone had painted a very rich white woman who had absolutely everything that you could desire in life, and she had the most solitary expression in the world. I had never been confronted with such solitude, and when I got back home, I wrote a piece that I called 'Lonely Woman'...It interests me more to have a human relationship with you than a musical relationship. I want to see if I can express myself in words, in sounds that have to do with a human relationship. At the same time, I would like to be able to speak of the relationship between two talents, between two doings. For me, the human relationship is much more beautiful, because it allows you to gain the freedom that you desire, for yourself and for the other ... In music you have something called sound, you have speed, you have timbre, you have harmonics, and you have, more or less, the resolutions. In most music, people that play what I call mostly standard music, they only use one dimension, which means the note and the time. Whereas like say I'm having this conversation with you now. I'm talking, but I'm thinking, feeling, smelling, and moving. Yet I'm concentrating on what you're saying. So that means there's more things going on in the body than just the present thing that the person's got you doing. Like you're interviewing me, although I'm doing more than just talking to you. And the same with you.   To me, human existence exists on a multiple level, not just on a two-dimensional level, not just having to be identified with what you do and what you say. Those things are the results of what people see and hear that you do. But the human beings themselves are living on a multiple level. That's how I have always wanted musicians to play with me: on a multiple level. I don't want them to follow me. I want them to follow themself, but to be with me."

'Something Else !!!!' 
full album:

All tracks composed by Ornette Coleman.

"Invisible" – 4:11
"The Blessing" – 4:45
"Jayne" – 7:17
"Chippie" – 5:37
"The Disguise" – 2:46
"Angel Voice" – 4:19
"Alpha" – 4:09
"When Will the Blues Leave?" – 4:58
"The Sphinx" – 4:13

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