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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke


FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS Ornette Live At Prince Street

Ornette Coleman - alto saxophone, trumpet, violin
Dewey Redman - tenor saxophone
Charlie Haden - bass
Ed Blackwell - drums
Recorded live on Prince Street, New York City, 1970
RCA Victor Gold Series 74321 851 592

Crotchet midprice 

1. Friends And Neighbours ( vocal )
2. Friends And Neighbours ( instrumental )
3. Long Time No See
4. Let's Play
5. Forgotten Songs
6. Tomorrow

This session was recorded in 1970 - roughly ten years after Ornette Coleman had burst onto the Jazz scene causing possibly the most controversy in all of the history of this most challenging of music forms. This is a live concert recorded in one of the famous New York "lofts". In the 1960's and 1970's and indeed on occasion at later dates the lofts in certain areas of New York and Chicago were very much the places to find the newer styles of Jazz. The audience here is comprised of neighbours and musician friends invited by Coleman and amongst those present are Pharaoh Sanders, Gil Evans and Don Cherry.
Ornette's music is never going to fall into the "Easy Listening " category - it makes strong demands on the listener as it does on the performers. With the passing of time his music has gained wider recognition and has influenced a myriad of other artists from Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and Gunther Schuller to the free-bop of such widely accepted musicians as Joe Lovano and, more recently, Chris Potter.
Whilst alto saxophone is obviously Coleman's strongest instrument, his trumpet playing ( although sparsely used ) is quite effective on this recording. His violin playing is best approached as a texture or background sound. Dewey Redman has always been a first-class tenor player and he performs well on these selections. Charlie Haden is one of the most creative musicians of any era and his bass playing is excellent here. Ed Blackwell was one of those figures who became a legend in his own lifetime. He is regarded by many as the father of "Free" drumming with roots that go all the way back to Africa.
There are two versions of the title track - the main difference being that the first one has a vocal chant for an intro.The tune itself could best be described as " country-rock" and Redman is particularly strong on both versions. " Long Time No See " has a Calypso-like theme and Coleman is the major soloist on this with a very constructive statement - Redman takes over for the last third of the track. "Let's Play " features Coleman on trumpet and " Forgotten Songs " has an amusing theme.
"Tomorrow " again features powerful soloing from Dewey Redman complete with multi-phonics,shrieks and wails.Ornette, in contrast, plays some lyrical and restrained alto here.
I enjoyed this record greatly and would heartily recommend it as an introduction to the small group music of Ornette Coleman .

Dick Stafford

D.S. is a professional reed player and teacher living in Coventry



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