May 31, 2013 – 5:00 am

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New York 1987 [no label, 1CD]

Live at the JVC Jazz Festival, Town Hall, New York, NY; June 23, 1987. Very good to excellent soundboard.

This is what Don Snowden wrote in the LA Times in 1987:

Some fans may dream the impossible dream of hearing deceased masters such as Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley or Charlie Parker perform in the flesh. The most universal dream for pop fans was a Beatles reunion concert until Mark David Chapman fatally shot John Lennon. But not me - seeing the Ornette Coleman Quartet live was my Beatles reunion…

But the prospect of ever hearing the original group was just another no-hope pipedream until three months ago, when Charlie Haden dropped the tantalizing word that he had been recording with the reunited quartet in New York. When the news arrived that Coleman’s JVC Jazz Festival appearance here would include a performance by the original quartet, there was no question where I was headed during the last week of June…

When the house lights dimmed again after Prime Time’s opening set in Town Hall, I was intently focused on the stage as first Cherry, then Haden, Blackwell and Coleman were introduced and prepared to play. They were older, obviously, but I wasn’t carrying any nostalgic baggage where the music or the way the musicians looked might dredge up a disquieting reminder of the way things once were. True, Higgins wasn’t there but Ed Blackwell had played on so many of those early records that I had always considered the two drummers interchangeable.

And when they began playing, it sounded just like it was supposed to. There was no sinking realization that your advance expectations were so high that there was no way the music could realistically live up to them.

The only old piece I recognized was “Lonely Woman” but that didn’t matter because Coleman’s appeal to me has always been the way he makes music rather than specific songs. And the pulsing rhythms of Haden and Blackwell and Ornette’s alternately jubilant and mournful solo romps into the wide open center of the music was everything I had hoped for.

That initial euphoria didn’t last long - next morning deadlines have a nasty way of bringing you back down to nuts-and-bolts considerations real quick. But the music that night has been lingering in my memory for weeks and probably will for months to come. As I told one friend after the concert, I can die happy now.

Jon Pareles of the New York Times wrote in 1987:

Ornette Coleman’s music can sound festive and frantic, encompassing and overloaded. In the alto saxophonist’s concert Tuesday at Town Hall with his 1960’s quartet and his current septet Prime Time, it was all those things - and it was triumphant. As Mr. Coleman enters his third decade as a major figure in jazz, his blueprint for music that mirrors the complexity of 20th-century living - jazz that layers melodies and rhythms and improvisations in a dense counterpoint - has gathered an audience that hears the swirl and flux as an up-to-the-minute groove…

Tuesday’s set concentrated on concise, theme-solos-theme versions of music from the new Coleman album. Even the themes are hydra-headed; Mr. Coleman’s open-toned tunes strut and leap amid double-time drumming from Calvin Weston and Denardo Coleman, interwoven bass lines by Al MacDowell and Jamaaladeen Tacuma, funk chords from Charles Ellerbee and high melodic counterpoint by Bern Nix, both on guitars. The tunes turn to free-for-all, with tempos that gust and pause and race ahead, but with a gesture from Mr. Coleman - who wore an eye-popping suit that looked like a grid of digitally-generated colors - the group would restate the themes and stop on a dime.

The two groups combined for ”Theme from a Symphony,” a simple theme leading to a welter of improvisation that was too much to take in at once - and, like most of Mr. Coleman’s music, jubilantly so.

Thanks to davmar77 for sharing the tracks at Dime and to Prof Goody for the tracklist.
Picture by Dmitri Kasterine, posted at kasterine.com - Thanks!

Cassette SB Master > 2nd Generation Cassette
Unknown transfer info > RCVD as flac

Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (224 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Please Do Not Hammer The Links. Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. The tracks should still be around. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Ornette Coleman with Prime Time
Track 01. In All Languages (fades in) (11.9MB)
Track 02. Song X (10.9MB)
Track 03. Story Tellers (14.2MB)
Track 04. The Good Life (5.7MB)
Track 05. Mothers Of The Veil (6.6MB)
Track 06. Band Intros (1.5MB)

Ornette Coleman
Jamaaladeen Tacuma
Al MacDowell
Calvin Weston
Denardo Coleman
Charles Ellerbee
Bern Nix

Ornette Coleman with The Quartet
Track 07. Peace Warriors (fades in) (7.2MB)
Track 08. Latin Genetics (9.5MB)
Track 09. Lonely Woman (16.4MB)
Track 10. Word For Bird (11.2MB)
Track 11. Africa Is The Mirror Of All Colors (9.8MB)
Track 12. (untitled) (3.9MB)
Track 13. The Sphinx (11.4MB)
Track 14. Theme From A Symphony (13.2MB)

Ornette Coleman
Don Cherry
Charlie Haden
Ed Blackwell

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  1. 3 Responses to “ORNETTE COLEMAN - NEW YORK 1987”

  2. I saw these bands in Paris (at the Rex theater) in 1987. But Billy higgins replaced Ed Blackwell. One of the greatest experiences of my life…

    By ES on May 31, 2013

  3. Sweet! BigO has always delivered on the tastiest of Ornette sets and this is no exception! Many thanks!!

    By eponymus on May 31, 2013

  4. track 12 “Untitled” is “Kathelin Gray” written by Ornette Coleman and Pat Metheny.

    By PXF on Jun 5, 2013

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