Carnegie Hall, June 25, 2003:
Ornette Coleman comes to the Carnegie Hall stage at 9:30 P.M. to a rousing, standing ovation from a sold out audience. As the applause quiets down, Ornette introduces a second bassist, Mr. Cohen, from the St. Louis Symphony. This evening’s musical lineup will be double standup bassists with Tony Falanga, Denardo Coleman on drums and Ornette’s alto saxophone.
The opening tune is very up-tempo with Ornette all over the scales on his alto. The double bassists are very busy and the drumming is ferocious. The next composition features the double bassists; one with a bow on the left and one fast walking on the right. The drummer utilizes timpani sticks for full rounded rolls and cymbal crescendos. The musical feel is very cerebral and celestial, free form, with Ornette’s alto executing sighs and shrieks at will. This composition carries along with the timpani stick rolls and both bassists playing intensely. Ornette plays all over this ferocious attack level, showcasing high shrieking crescendos, with fluid and creative melodic runs and arpeggios. The next song is again very upbeat. The drummer is extremely busy and rolling all over the drum kit and the two bassists are hastening the tempo along. Ornette glides free form above the sizzling hot band attack. Ornette solos intensely, executing creatively wild arpeggios and flourishes at will. Ornette picks up a trumpet and plays some outside “Miles” type melodic phrasings. He quickly resumes the alto saxophone again.
The drums and double bassists create a very, very unique and different sound. The next composition has Ornette playing emotional sighs and wails all around the ‘fat’ drone sound of the chunky rhythm section. Ornette plays lilting notes of the lead melodic attack with a fleeting fancy that is playful and non-conventional. There is a double bass solo with drum accompaniment and then Ornette jumps back in with wailing and sighs, dynamically stabbing into the melodic flow of the key signature. The next tune is slow and deliberate melodic development. One bassist plays with the bow as the other plays extensive melodic bass note runs. The drummer remains dynamically quiet with excellent brushwork. The bow bassist takes the lead as Ornette jumps in with extremely high shrieks on his alto. Everyone is free form and the standup basses are playing in unison. Song six is very up-tempo as the drummer plays in a double time groove. Both bassists are walking scales intensely all over the key signature. Ornette’s attack level is of sporadic sighs and shrieks at will. His unique approach is simultaneously melodic and aggressively wild at the same time. The drummer is going off; wild, fast and furious as the bassists solo up and down the scales. A double bass solo evolves with the bow and finger style providing a unique contrast, as the drums are smoking and Ornette shrieks on his horn.
Composition seven is a slower tempo. There is an answer/response form between the alto and the bassist with the bow. One bass is melodic, with inflections of dissonance, while the other bass plays straight. The bassist on the right has his fingers all swollen and red from his intense playing technique. The next song starts with the drums and the two basses. Ornette bursts in on alto then pauses to pick up the trumpet for a few measures. Ornette returns to the alto with a fast and furious double time attack. Ornette executes long melodic runs with randomly placed arpeggios and flourishes. His musical scales lead up to crescendo shrieks of musical emotion. The next composition is upbeat and furious. The drums are extremely busy and the two basses are going off! Both basses are playing rapidly executed notes as Ornette wails and sighs on his alto. His free form style embraces many crescendos and arpeggios at will. The bassists solo in unison as the drummer play double time, displaying his incredible chops, with amazing rolls and cymbal crashes. The musical level of intensity is the highest of the evening! Everyone is buzzing as Ornette wails, sighs and runs fluidly all over his horn with arpeggios and flourishes placed where one might think impossible. The bassists solo together as Ornette picks up the trumpet foe a few measures. The drummer smokes the tempo as Ornette returns to the alto.
The last song features the drummer on the crown of his ride cymbal and dual bassists on bow and scaled notes. Ornette saunters coyly and playfully, expressing the melody. Ornette playing is soulful, sensual, meandering and capricious as he mischievously ambles through, with creatively conceived sighs and wails on his alto. Ornette executes a short and succinct intro to an amazing drum solo by Denardo Coleman.
Ornette Coleman clearly displays his amazingly creative musical genius tonight. He started free form jazz and continues to amaze and dazzle his audiences to this very day. Kathy and I have experienced a true jazz virtuoso tonight and will long remember his amazing performance and stupendous display of musical magic!
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