Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Ornette Coleman – Ornette at 12 (Impulse, 1969)

I was thrilled to score a mint copy of this record on E-bay (for only nine dollars!) since it’s been long out of print and one of the few Ornette Coleman records that I do not have. This album was quite controversial at the time because Ornette’s then 12 year old son Denardo was featured on drums. One of the reasons Coleman gave for using him at that age and then again on the Blue Note album The Empty Foxhole a few years later was that young Denardo was much more open to ideas and ways of playing, having no preconceived notions about music and the instrument except for those he learned from his father. Rounding out the personnel on the record were Dewey Redman on tenor saxophone and Charlie Haden on bass, Ornette Coleman plays alto saxophone, trumpet and violin.

It’s a pretty interesting record – recorded live in concert, as was Ornette’s other Impulse! Release, Crisis. It’s a shame that these haven’t been re-issued on compact disc. The leader plays beautifully on alto sax as can be imagined, but acquits himself well on violin and trumpet, instruments that he had been woodshedding with while on a sabbatical from performing. So don’t let the thought of a 12 year old drummer scare you away – if you’re a fan of Coleman’s music and have a chance to pick this up some where, do so.

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