Today the music world lost one of its foremost thinkers and creative forces: Ornette Coleman – composer, performer, philosophic musician and great human being! There is no end to the list of artists in various fields he has influenced, no end to the musicians that took his message on and so moved improvised music in a new and different way.
I was lucky enough to work with Ornette for a few years when he released his Harmolodic albums via Universal France and stayed in touch with him and his son Denardo ever since. Unforgettable the moments of simple chat (even so, simple it never was when talking to Ornette – he was always challenging your perceptions, even in a little chat), his incredible storytelling and his warm personality – we exchanged some philosophical books at the time, he gave me and his label contact in France, Jean–Philippe Allard, a silk shirt each, printed with musical motifs … I was once sitting in the Harmolodic Studios a whole afternoon, just watching him rehearse the two bass players for his new band – there was so much wisdom in these teachings and talks between the three ….and when he tried to explain to me Harmolodics, the all-round philosophy of his music and life and I thought I got it, only not to understand anything half an hour later …
And then the shows with him I was lucky enough to witness over the years – from the indescribable beauty of the Umbria Jazz event called Global Expressions to the Meltdown Festival in London which he curated and performed in – including one of the most magical moments I ever experienced when listening to music: Ornette, Denardo and Charlie Haden performing a 15 minute rendition of Ornette’s most well-known composition, Lonely Women … pure jazz heaven.
He surely made the world a better place. May he Rest In Peace.
The month of June started well in Madrid with the visit of the Christian McBride Trio in a decently packed Teatro Lara. His trio with Christian Sands on piano and Ulysses Owens on drums has truly grown to a understanding and communicating unit, as their latest disc OUT THERE proves as well, but live this is something pretty amazing now: from a cheeky version of Caravan, in which Sands deconstructs the tune only to drive it to places unusual and imaginary, to Down by the riverside and a groove version of the funk classic Car Wash, these guys are at home with all of it. McBride a powerful and inventive anchor, who performed some impressive soli on the night and seemingly enjoyed the creativity of his sidemen, especially Sands, who proved in style why he is one of the most talked about young pianists. Owens managed to keep up with these two masters very well and achieved that his various soli didn’t get boring – a feat for any drummer if you ask me. The repertoire of the night was either from Out There or the forthcoming live album by the Trio, which is supposed to come out in September and should be worth waiting for.
Quickly a few CDs I would like to recommend, as I hadn’t done so for a while now:
Jef Neve – ONE – the pianists first solo outing – spectacular! I always liked Jef’s European approach to jazz, his obvious classical influences and his writing, again amazing on this record, as well as his touch given to the covers on the album.
Samuel Blaser – Spring Rain – the Swiss trombonist’s tribute to Jimmy Giuffre is inventive, adventurous and full of respect. A young man to watch out for.
Beady Belle – Songs from a Decade – the Best of … is a collection of some great songs from all of the groups Jazzland releases … plus a wonderful bonus live disc .. Alone worth to go for this set!
Michael Gibbs & The NDR Big Band – play a Bill Frisell Set List – and Bill himself is the special guest, as well as Jeff Ballard on the drums. All arrangements are by Michael and he is conducting a NDR Big Band performing at its best – compositions by Frisell, Gil Evans, Monk, Benny Goodman, Lennon/McCartney and Lee Konitz, all done for Bill by the extraordinary musical mind of Gibbs and the result is truly captivating. The best big ensemble record you will get so far this year.