October 2005

Ornette Coleman
October 29, 2005Massey HallToronto
Peaceful Singing
by David Fujino with photo by Stanley Fefferman
'Bird supersonic' (came to mind) as Ornette played the theme straight out on the first tune. As the tune jump cuts to a new tempo, a textured medium swing, Ornette's trumpet bursts and bugle-brassy runs lit up the flow of cymbals and drums. Then it occurred to me that drummer Denardo Coleman is not really keeping time on drums: while he's creating a moving backdrop for bassists Tony Falanga's rhapsodic bowing and Greg Cohen's taut thrusting pizzicato lines, Denardo is also playing within himself!

.. Two different ideas operating at the same time, brought together, contrary and different motions and intentions, in an ever-developing sound congress, a musical group dialogue developing in all languages ...

It's been decades since Ornette's been in Toronto, and after the initial standing ovation for the band, Ornette walked onto the stage to steady applause, carrying his gold alto sax and dressed in a black pork pie hat and black suit with bursting gold medallion patterns. Speaking soft and gentle, Ornette hoped we'd enjoy the evening's music.

Jazz legend, and innovator, and all that stuff (true), Ornette Coleman established his own sound on alto sax and then found his own way to play the trumpet and violin. He has composed large group compositions like "Skies of America" and initially started playing his music in small group formats as a way to get his music heard. Composing was always his objective.

On stage tonight was a pared down minimalist group. Pizzicato and arco bass, Ornette's violin (twice briefly) and trumpet (once briefly) sounded, Ornette mostly played alto tonight, this night of music and feelings deeply turning and so definitely blue-toned, wisps of delicacy these alto cries.

Ornette didn't announce tune titles on Saturday, so neither will I.

The audience received from the Coleman four a music of great tender cries and yet enormous restraint ... the gentle soft-spoken, the beautiful cry — the upward beautiful cry, in Ornette's compositions and alto sax...

On the Encore tune, "Lonely Woman", with pizzicato drone and singing arco and ticking drums, the dripped and pulled melody on alto sax, yearns.

Ornette Coleman is a recipient of Chicago's MacArthur "Genius" award.

We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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Stanley Fefferman
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The Live Music Report

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