Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2013-08-16

2013-08-16

Ornette Coleman: Friends and Neighbors: Ornette Live at Prince Street (BGP/Flying Dutchman, 2013) An orphan in Coleman's many-labeled catalogue, this 1970 recording is often overlooked in favor of his somewhat earlier live-in-Stockholm Golden Circle albums on Blue Note, a more reputable imprint than Bob Thiele's Flying Dutchman. It had sat unplayed amid my vinyl for 40 years. But when I gave this Eurozone-manufactured CD a trial spin, I fell hard. The Golden Circle records have great moments (the lyrical "Antiques," the site-specific "Faces and Places"). But they're chamber music. This has the overheard quality of a jam, with Coleman's time-tested Charlie Haden-Ed Blackwell rhythm section beefed up by Dewey Redman, whose tenor is always there to add some body when Ornette picks up a trumpet or violin. Cacophonous title track to theme-and-variations "Long Time No See" to trumpet feature "Let's Play" to two-sax "Forgotten Songs" to blowout "Tomorrow," it's all keyed by a very multigenerational chorus singing or if necessary chanting "Friends and neighbors, that's where it's at." A

The Prestige Legacy, Vol. 1: The High Priests (Prestige, 2000) Here's an opportunistic little comp I grab when Carola feels like "some jazz." It's a time capsule of how the music was recorded 50 or 60 years ago, with plenty of care and not much conceptual panache. Four tracks apiece to leaders Davis and Coltrane, three to Rollins, five to Monk, and for me it's Monk who's something like a ringer, first because three of his lack saxophone, as does only one of the Davises, and second because this was his classic era. Not so with Davis, better on Columbia, or Coltrane, better on Impulse or Atlantic--both of them sorcerers' apprentices, playing with a youthful ease soon to be honed into singular command but in this context more redolent of the great culture that made their genius possible. And none of Rollins's three, my favorite of which honors a Victor Herbert tune, are on either Silver City or his single-disc Prestige best-of. Also scattered about are ace sax cameos by two sidemen: Charlie Parker, meet Davey Schildkraut. A-

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