March 9, 1930 – June 11, 2015
(Ornette Coleman on alto and soprano saxophone, Don Cherry on trumpet, Percy Heath and Red Mitchell on bass, and Shelly Manne, Recorded between January 16th and March 10th, 1959)
It is so immediately obvious that this music and these musicians lost nothing and gained so much by abandoning certain conventions and standards. You can hear the exuberance in everyone’s playing: the exuberance known only to those who collectively go where no collective has gone before. Here is a living, ongoing fusion of cutting-edge and tradition, common sense and avant garde, both essences at once, in sound and the silences in between.
We can reenact their almost subversive rhythm, melody and harmony, we can feel its promise of another music (and another world) in our heads and hearts. But if we try to copy them we can never have the same exuberance in our playing as in this album. For us the question is yesterday, while for them it was tomorrow. Until our life questions and musical questions together are of tomorrow (as theirs were), we will never be able to sound like this. Tomorrow is still the question. Ornette Coleman, Presente!