the start of the first piece, "Faces and Places," it is clear that this
is an extraordinary CD. The sheer creativity of Ornette Coleman's
improvising here would be miraculous at any time in jazz history;
moreover, even by his own high standards, he made some of the finest
music of his recording career at the Golden Circle. This album was
recorded in the midst of one of the most stimulating periods in
Coleman's career. At the beginning of 1965 he ended a two-year period
of rest and recovery from the jazz wars by playing at New York's
Village Vanguard nightclub for most of January. In the spring he
composed and played a soundtrack for the Conrad Rooks film Chappaqua;
his creation, however, was not used in the movie - too beautiful, the
producer allegedly said, it would have distracted viewers' attention.
And in August Coleman set out upon a European tour, his first ever, as
well as the first extensive opportunity for his loyal longtime trio to
perform publicly. The tour began with his famous self-produced concert,
for which he composed all new music, in the London suburb of Croydon.
It continued with appearances at continental festivals and clubs; in
Paris, the trio created the soundtrack for the Living Theater's film
Who's Crazy, for which Coleman composed more new music and also
returned to some of his older songs. At the end of November, then, they
came to Stockholm, Sweden for a two-week engagement at the city's
leading jazz club, the Golden Circle (Gyllene Cirkeln). Their nightly
performances consisted mostly of even more new songs composed by
Coleman, and this time Blue Note Records captured the trio at its
There is an unusual air of elation, optimism,
about this music. It came six years after he made his New York debut
and the eruption of the great Coleman controversy; now, instead of
angry arguments and frequent accusations, virtually unanimous praise
lullowed his every move. Better yet, the audiences were enthusiastic
about what was in several ways the most radical group he'd yet led.
Earlier bassists and drummers had often introduced rhythmic
contradictions into Coleman's performances, but never went as far as
Golden Circle partners David Izenzon and Charles Moffett. With
brilliant technique and sound - Moffett's snares and cymbals resound
with overtones - the drummer was an eclectic who sometimes drastically
changed his accompaniment style in mid-performance. And innovative
virtuoso Izenzon, a devotee of pure bass sound, liked to play arco as
well as pizzicato, bowing contrapuntal lines in microtones. Close
listening and responding, the fundamental elements of Coleman's
harmolodics, unites this music; Izenzon, especially, exemplifies this.
Hear for example the marvelous way the three juggle three- and
four-beat meters in the alternate take of "European Echoes," which at
least begins as an oom-pah-pah waltz; hear, too, the bassist's changes
of accompaniment and counterpoint in the ballad "Dawn." And yet the
trio took more obvious liberties with rhythms on previous recordings
from this tour. At the Croydon concert and in Who's Crazy, some
performances include occasional changes of tempo and direction. In
several places during the alternate take of "Faces And Places" Izenzon
and Moffett freely introduce rhythmic contradictions behind the alto
solos. The difference this time is that Coleman's mood is now so
creative and exalted and sustained that he rejects his accompanists'
musical proposals. Here he weaves lines with phrases from the theme,
there he spins fantastic developments from new motives, and then he
plays hard-driving rhythmic figures that knock you off your feet. Along
with his melodic creativity, the many potent, strictly rhythmic figures
in his solos make the original take of "Faces And Places" an exciting,
kicking, whooping experience. These neo-riffs sound like deliberate
choices. His style seemed to be changing with this trio, becoming more
self-conscious as he stretched out in long solos, and some deliberate
elements ol his later style - like rising whole-step modulations (for
Coleman's free tonality wasn't exactly atonal); dramatically accented,
wide upward leaps; and the sequencing of phrases that in time became
almost a reflex - also were frequent now. A good example of these
stylistic aspects is "Dawn," unique in that the theme and alto solo
seem to quite deliberately avoid the resolutions of conventional
ballads. Coleman sustains a serene mood almost to the end, when a fast
tempo brings bright phrases, and the surprising conclusion is a hard,
held tone. High spirits dominate the other selections. Where "European
Echoes" was brief, edgy, mocking in Who's Crazy, the two takes here are
expansive. "Dee Dee" is another simple song, almost a nursery rhyme,
with more superlative, theme-based Coleman improvising. Fast tempos
brought out the best in him. These versions of "Faces And Places"
(which starts out very fast) and "Dee Dee" speed as they go along, as
if the trio was possessed by the joy of improvising. There's a
similarly fast, similarly wonderful bonus on this CD: "Doughnuts,"
which was the final tune to be performed on the second day and is
released here for the first time. The trio first recorded "Doughnuts"
three months earlier at the Croydon concert; among the events in this
newly discovered version is a section in an enormously swinging
medium-up tempo. There is no similarity between this "Doughnuts"
(plural) and the fine piece that these three recorded as "Doughnut"
(singular) in their 1962 concert. Of course, along with all its other
qualities, this is exciting music - the immediate excitement of
Coleman's rhythms and harmonies has always been an aspect of his
improvising. Altogether, like Charlie Parker or Louis Armstrong in
their most creative periods, Coleman's Stockholm music is complex,
calling for a similar depth of emotional response from the listener.
Like his fellow greats, Coleman's music is also highly swinging, to
move the body as well as the spirit. Blue Note recorded these
performances at the end of the trio's Golden Circle engagement and had
issued two LPs by the time the musicians returned from their nine-month
European tour; those LPs and an ESP-Disk of the 1962 concert were the
first Ornette Coleman albums to appear in years. What a pleasure to
have them and the new performances on CD at last. - John Litweiler,
author of Ornette Coleman: A Harmolodic Life (Da Capo Books)
Ornette Coleman's trio, now and for the next two weeks at the Gyllene
Cirkeln, is one of the great cultural events in Stockholm this fall.
Rarely can such strong words be used about a jazz event, but perhaps
they have never been as justified. It is beyond discussion that Ornette
Coleman plays a central role in the new jazz. He belongs in the same
class as John Coltrane, Elvin Jones, Eric Dolphy, Cecil Taylor, Don
Cherry and perhaps a few more of the great innovators, but it is he who
has become the symbol of the new jazz and he has given it a striking
His music is very universal, not just because he is more
than a jazz musician who improvises in a new way, as compared with
earlier jazz musicians, or who plays without piano accompaniment, or
who plays the saxophone, trumpet and violin in an unusual manner.
Ornette Coleman is important simply because he creates good music. To
be able to create this-in this case good jazz music-it is necessary to
play differently compared with pre- 1965 as well as 1959, when Ornette
Coleman appeared on the scene. The old musical language has become
"worn" or "spent." The bebop style is as impossible today as the spoken
drama or tachism or the realistic novel.
But Ornette Coleman's
greatness is of course due to his perceiving this, starting a new
style and influencing a lot of musicians positively and thus carrying
jazz forward. But for him this renewal has absolutely not been a goal
or an end in itself, only a condition to enable him to express himself
fully and to create good music.
If we refrain from thinking of
his technical and stylistic importance and simply listen when sitting
at the Gyllene Cirkeln, it may become easier for us to understand why
his music is universal and why it reaches beyond jazz. Ornette Coleman
succeeds in expressing a vision or delivering a message with authority
and a personal punch. This is perhaps an approximation of what is meant
when referring to artistic greatness.
His emotional range is
fairly limited and if it were not for the variety of his music, we
would certainly consider it tedious. The content of his music is mostly
pure beauty, a glittering, captivating, dizzying, sensual beauty. A
couple of years ago nobody thought so, and everyone considered his
music grotesque, filled with anguish and chaos.
Now it is almost
incomprehensible that one could have held such an opinion, as
incomprehensible as the fact that one could object to Willem de
Kooning's portraits of women or Samuel Beckett's absurd plays. Thus
Ornette Coleman has been able to change our entire concept of what is
beautiful merely through the power of his personal vision. It is most
beautiful when Coleman's bass player, David Izenzon, plays string bass
together with him. Then, it is almost hauntingly beautiful. To many,
Izenzon will certainly be the great experience during this guest
appearance and this is understandable. We know Coleman so well from
numerous records even if the impression is strongly changed through
hearing him personally. But Izenzon has the freshness of the newly
How come David Izenzon's name has not been mentioned
more often during all these years? Suddenly at the Cirkeln we discover
something we always suspected was true-namely that Scott LaFaro and all
the other great virtuosi were just virtuosi. Izenzon is a real
He is largely that, just by using the "old" technique
and by playing string bass. A contrabass is undoubtedly built just for
this purpose and the greatest possibilities lie there.
man in the group stands somewhat in the shadow of the two greats. His
name is Charles Moffett, who plays the drums and is probably the only
one in today's jazz world who could fit into Ornette Coleman's trio.
Ornette Coleman's trio at the Gyllene Cirkeln-it should be repeated-is
a great cultural event. Everybody in Sweden's music world, from pop
musicians to serious composers, should hurry to the jazz club during
the two weeks of this visit. Next Sunday, everything reverts back to
normal for jazz in Sweden. - Ludvig Rasmusson (original liner notes)
In 1962, Ornette Coleman, who'd rocked the jazz world three years
earlier, debuted his new trio with classical bassist David Izenson and
drummer Charles Moffett, introducing an entirely new sound. Then
abruptly he announced his retirement. When he re-emerged two years
later, he reformed this unique trio and signed with Blue Note Records.
On his first European tour, producer Francis Wolff met the trio in
Stockholm and recorded them for two nights at the Golden Circle
performing eight new compositions.
The results were issued on two
LPs that put Coleman in the forefront of jazz again. Rudy Van Gelder
has returned to the original tapes to remaster these gems. In the
process, we've added an additional tune and two alternate takes to
Volume One and three alternate takes to Volume Two, all never before