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Liner Notes: Ornette Coleman’s Change of the Century, written by Ornette Coleman

In an essential jazz history book Jazz, co-written by Gary Giddins and Scott DeVeaux, the authors describe Ornette Coleman as being “universally revered as one of American music’s most original figures,” and whose influence is “beyond calculation.”  In addition to his musical significance, his six albums recorded for Atlantic Records from 1959 – 1961 “generated a cultural storm, not least for album titles that continued to lay emphasis on the group’s challenging attitude, which — without once mentioning the civil rights struggle — seemed to incarnate the authority of the New Negro: The Shape of Jazz to Come, Change of the Century, This is Our Music, and Free Jazz.”   Those Atlantic albums are creative and emotional landmarks, and for open-minded musicians and listeners, continue to be indispensable material for measuring our respective aesthetic boundaries. 

The importance of these recordings heightens the influence of their liner notes.  But, which liner notes best characterize Ornette Coleman’s work on Atlantic?   Focusing on the first three of the recordings, in the liner notes to the first, […] Continue reading »