Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Listening to Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz

I am writing a paper that involves comparing a piece I wrote to Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz. Here's my stream of conscious notes on FREE JAZZ while listening to it.

1) Intro: everyone playing a composed part

2) First solo: bass clarinet solo with 2 drummers, 2 bass players, light trumpet and alto sax accompaniment (almost a duet with don cherry’s background conversation)

3) First solo fades into collective improvisation with all horn players in

4) It seems the bass clarinet is still the soloist, but the other horn players are floating in and out of the texture

5) Composed Interlude that is plays again

6) Freddie Hubbard’s solo now (like before both drummers and bassist playing continuously). No other horn players playing at first

7) All the other horn players are in now, and then gone again from the mix, still Freddie’s solo, with horns in and out, (all the backgrounds sound improvised, sometimes melodic, sometimes riffs, sometimes just textural)

8) Freddie’s solo ends, with some strange sounding horn pads, then a long unison (harmelodic unison) line that sends off into Ornette’s solo.

9) Like the other solos, they always start with just the soloist and rhythm section, and then the other horns come in eventually to add to the conversation.

10) Dolphy and Freddie are playing background riffs together, same melodic/rhythmic idea, first time this has happened (background horn players playing an idea specifically together behind a soloist) Still behind Ornette’s solo

11) Ornette’s solo ends almost with a wave collective improvisation taking him over from time to time, and another unison line passage that jump starts Don Cherry’s solo.

12) So far the time has stayed consistent in the rhythm section, playing swing 4/4 walking patterns, that Scott Lafaro embellishes or implies different rhythm activity over, while Haden keeps a quarter note going the whole time.

13) Don Cherry’s solo like all the others begins with just bass/drum accompaniment at first, then the other horns eventually come in, picking snippets out of the soloists’ lines for variation in the backgrounds. Of all the horn players, Dolphy seems to play the most riff based repetitive background figures.

14) Dolphy and Freddie play some great long tone pads behind don cherry’s solo, while Ornette comes in with more duet ideas playing off of the trumpet solo. It almost sounds composed, but I don’t think it is.

15) Again Dolphy and Freddie playing riffs off of each other, copying the ideas the other are doing, behind the trumpet solo. Another Riff/unison line section that starts the bass solos/duets

16) The first solo is Charlie Haden with Lafaro backing him up and with the drummers playing very softly together behind him. No horns accompany the bass solos. It is very tastefully played, and wraps up with Haden strumming his bass strings with his thumb. The strumming, plucking on the other side of the bridge, as well as playing chords help cue the horns to come in with one loud chord, transition the bass solo from Haden to Lafaro.

17) Haden backs up Lafaro more texturally as Lafaro plays more like a horn player in his solo. Both drummers continue to play, but more sparsely. Haden is implying a three four pattern which was in four leading up to this. Haden metrically modulates from three to four, and starts walking behind Lafaro.

18) The horns come in full forte (they usually are loud and boisterous with every entrance), and serve to break up the quiet bass solos, and move the solos over into the drummers, who are now playing in duet , Ed Blackwell taking the first solo with Billy Higgins playing a light cymbal groove behind his drums.

19) Blackwell’s solo ends with a mourning pretty high pitched tone. Blackwell starts playing time on the ride cymbal, hi hat and snare comping, while billy Higgins plays a cymbal melody with mallets. The second solo is very short, and the horns come in with their composed ideas and break it up, ending the piece. I wonder if at this moment they new they were running out of tape and had to signal the solo to be over prematurely, because the end of the piece seems weak and uncertain, as if they just suddenly had the rug pulled under them. Great piece, I have some work to do later transcribing some of the riffs/chords from all the composed sections!

1 comment:

  1. Cool's interesting how simply describing what happens in a piece like Free Jazz actually becomes analysis in a way! Just wrote about this album too on my blog. Like your pieces on free jazz v. free improv, too--we have some similar tastes...added you to my blogroll! Have a good one!