Here are two tracks from Ornette Coleman's seminal quartet, taken from the album 'Change of the Century,' recorded in October 1959 in Hollywood. At this distance, it is hard to see why there was so much controversy over this music - it's hard-swinging, bluesy, fast and fiery. Yet – there is a tangible freedom on offer – there is a lot of space because of the lack of piano that would rein in the directional possibilities to a certain extent by the choice of chords played underneath. Charlie Haden's bass frees up the harmonic area for the soloists – one can see a link to Gerry Mulligan's piano-less quartets that also started out on the West Coast in the early fifties. Yet in Mulligan's music, the harmony is always implicit, the chorus structures of the tunes in place as structuring bulwarks. Here, the improvisational area has been opened up considerably, with the structural form emerging from the improvisor's content. Olson again: 'FORM IS NEVER MORE THAN AN EXTENSION OF CONTENT.'
And it still sounds fresh...
Buy the album