You, me, the music, and me.

Friday, June 02, 2006

ORNETTE COLEMAN Dancing in Your Head

A&M SP-722 (1977)

Dancing in Your Head was an important step in the evolution of Ornette Coleman's music. Just as In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew marked Miles Davis' stylistic transition from jazz into rock-oriented fusion, this album was Ornette's first foray into his now trademark blend of jazz, funk, and harmolodics.

The album is brief but seems to contain a lot of music in its thirty-one minutes. The bulk of the record is occupied by two takes of "Theme from a Symphony", listed as "Variation One" and "Variation Two" (the tune has appeared on other albums by Ornette as "The Good Life"). The group consists of Ornette on alto sax, Jamaaladeen Tacuma on bass (credited here as "Rudy MacDaniel"), Ronald Shannon Jackson on drums (credited as "Shannon Jackson"), and Bern Nix and Charlie Ellerbee on "1st and 2nd lead guitar", respectively. After several unison statements of the main theme, the group improvises freely, with no apparent chord progression to guide them. Things get quite frantic, and even the most resilient of ears may have trouble listening to the squealing, childlike interplay of the instruments (it doesn't help that the recording makes Jackson sound as if he's playing large boxes of cereal instead of drums!), but repeated listenings prove rewarding as different elements of the sound come to the front with each spin.

The final track, "Midnight Sunrise", was recorded with the Master Musicians of Joujouka and clarinetist/author Robert Palmer in Morocco in 1973 and is an oddly fitting postscript to the album. Coleman's sax and Palmer's clarinet fit perfectly with the beautiful squall conjured by the MMJ (the track can be heard in the David Cronenberg film Naked Lunch). Listen to Dancing in Your Head and you'll hear the exciting sound of an innovator reinventing himself.


At 7:26 AM, Anonymous Gaspar said...

Hi Peter,

I´m Gaspar, from interplanetary_music. Maybe you would liked to see the new vedeo that I upload in youtube:

Great Blog,

gaspar []

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Peter MacDonald said...

Thank you, Gaspar, and thanks for the link... that was incredible! It's so rare to see footage of Ornette from that era... with your permission, could I embed that video in my blog entry? I can give you credit and a link to your site. If not, no problem... thanks again!


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