Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This was a very interesting find on the dimeadozen bittorrent site, a recording of Ornette Coleman performing the Skies of America suite with his band of the day, Dewey Redman on tenor saxophone, Charlie Haden on bass and Ed Blackwell on drums; joined by the American Symphony Orchestra, with Leon Thompson conducting. This concert took place during the Newport in New York Festival, at Philharmonic Hall in New York City on July 4, 1972. The first unnamed track finds Ornette and company improvising with the symphony on alternating sections of the composition, and sounds pretty cool. Blackwell sounds particularly on fire, playing with abandon and passion. It's also fascinating to hear how Coleman and Redman compliment each other without getting in each other's way. Ornette ends the piece with some sublime solo alto. Track two starts out with the symphony playing cacophonously before slipping into a more playful mode. Ornette's band come in and the two play together sounding deep and strong, both the symphony and quartet inspire and dance around each other. The symphony steps aside and lets Ornette grove on alto over a cookin' rhythm section. Track three Finishes up the proceedings with some feverish exchanges between the orchestra and quartet. Jazz and classical may make for strange bedfellows, but they do make fascinating music.

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