Okay Seth, I was wrong. It’s amazing how much I overlook when I just flip through a new album like it was a National Geographic.
When I saw that Ornette had won a Grammy for this album, I at first assumed it was intended as a sort of lifetime achievement award. I didn’t think that the album warranted the award in light of the many greater albums he had made over the last 30 years (although I think it’s better than most of the other albums that win Grammies). I’m a fan of his Prime Time recordings as well as the standard classics contained on Beauty is a Rare Thing, so I almost felt like he was being dishonored, especially with the lackluster reception he got at the awards ceremony, where I’m sure more than 90% of those in the audience had never heard The Shape of Jazz to Come, let alone his work on Skies of America or Virgin Beauty.
But, again, I was wrong. I was wrong in the way I often am when I offer a strong opinion on something I have not yet experienced fully. I display my prejudices and preconceptions bluntly in a way that is becoming all too familiar to me and those who spend any considerable amount of time with me. Fortunately, I come to my senses eventually and sit down and find out what I really feel.
So, the album is great. The sound quality is better than on any Ornette album I’ve ever heard. And just look at the line-up. There are two bass players: Tony Falanga and Greg Cohen, who some of you may be more familiar with as the bassist from Masada, playing alongside another great and innovative altoist, John Zorn. Ornette plays three instruments (alto, violin, and trumpet), all of them with consummate skill. I know Miles gave him shit for playing the trumpet, but he’s had 40 odd years of practice since then. Denardo Coleman is on drums, who’s been playing with his father off and on since another great concert recording from 1969, Crisis.
Highly recommended music.