EXCELLENT A++ SOUND and QUIET VINYL for both sides of this great Ornette Coleman Blue Note album. Ornette’s music clearly isn’t for everyone, but you’ve got to hand it to the guy when it comes to getting good sound on his records. We’ve heard a number of Ornette records that had excellent sound, the trick is finding the ones that sound good and aren’t so crazy musically that there’s still appeal to the average audiophile. This one’s a bit out there for sure, but we enjoyed it — the excellent sound throughout helped the music make sense.
Of course, good recordings don’t always get you good sounding records, and this 2-pack helps prove that point. Each of these copies had one great sounding side backed with a flip that was much more typical. Fortunately, we ended up with an A++ side one and an A++ side two, which allowed us to pair them up. If you want to see just what the Super Hot Stampers give you that the average copy lacks, it’s as easy as flipping either record over and playing the side that didn’t earn a Hot Stamper grade. And as always, if you want to leave the tedium of playing mediocre sounding vinyl to the guys who sit through stacks of it every day (that’s us, natch), don’t worry — there won’t be a quiz at the end!
The sound on the A++ sides is bigger and livelier with more presence, better clarity and more extension up top. You get tighter bass with more weight, and more air and texture to the brass. If you’ve got a taste for free jazz, I think you’ll be very impressed with the winning sides.
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Here, Coleman with Dewey Redman and the rhythm section of Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison work through Coleman’s melodic conceptions and harmonic constructs on five numbers, with alternate takes making up two more. Coleman plays alto on four tunes and trumpet on three — better than violin. “Airborne” is the most successful thing here in that Coleman’s music matches the rhythm section’s energy for the only time on the session. Redman’s tenor solo is one of the most bleating and emotionally intense of his career, careening across microphonics as he flats fifths and screeches through a series of arpeggios that cause Coleman to begin his solo at 60 mph at the very top of a scale and cruise through six or seven melodic variations on its theme before bringing it back down. Meanwhile, Elvin barely breaks a sweat and Garrison creates such a taut harmonic template for Coleman and Redman, they have to stretch. The title track is perhaps Coleman’s finest moment on the trumpet; he spatters his notes in such a way that across the B-flat diminished nine scalar invention, he picks up all the tonal qualities in the color palette and chromatically orders them in such a way that it sets up Redman with a prime opportunity to alter the melody of the tune one note at a time.