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Ornette Coleman and Charlie Haden Part 2

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Facing the same door after intermission, I saw one of the coolest cats stroll through. With cheers, applause, love and happiness, Mr. Ornette Coleman waltzed in with a blue suit, a lid with pork and pie and a smile that said; Hello, thank you very much, my name is Ornette Coleman and I came to play! Maybe there were many who shared my sentiment for the underdog avant guard jazz musician. Responsible for creations with the drive and tenacity to make people either frown, smile or ponder, “Where in life does this music fit for me?” Well, if your ears are open, there is a path that leads straight to the heart. From the first note, the statements were made and court was in session. Judgment day: Kerry, Bush or Ornette Coleman. You remember the feeling you had earlier this month when you did not know what would happen. Today, Ornette was on the podium and he communicated with fire and desire for the music to be heard. This was such a total contrast from the first set. World be free was the key with lessons and expressions flowing freely from a trilogy of instruments. The warm up is over and the game is ready to begin!

My hope is that everyone had their big ears on because that is a prerequisite for the message of the music. Now, the music was big but, Ornette was very humble playing it. It flowed with such ease from tenor, violin and trumpet and his presence gave you a feeling of experiencing music as it was some 40 to 50 years ago when jazz was free and the masses sought out the music to understand it. Quite a difference from the modern day imposters who lead the sheep into believing that jazz can be smooth as waves or quiet like a storm. Artistic types wondered while bureaucrats blunder, “Why, That’s Not Jazz”. My question is where did you get your definition of jazz? The definition of jazz comes from listening to the music and yourself, not to what others tell you it should be. Believer or non-believer, the choice is yours.

Ornette is a part of a culture that spoke their own language musically and made their voice be heard, no matter what people thought. Just like back in the day, there are those who hate and those who appreciate. But, one thing that can’t be denied is the powerful energetic passionate expression that took over the walls of the Disney Concert Hall. The players were in a diamond formation with the powerhouse Denardo Coleman, encased behind a sound barrier on drums, playing so fast that sometimes, both of his arms looked like a blur. On the east and west points of the precious stone were two acoustic bass players Greg Cohen workin’ the bow and Tom Falanga plucking the bottom. This concept of two basses is quite a lovely perspective on the music. This is like a play where four stories are going on in different scenarios but, each has a common denominator and they are all related. It can be modal and never ending and then all of a sudden, it’s done. Forget about the resolve. I would not quite call it a symphony but, the music theory can be synonymous. The best of free artistic expression elaborately plotted and planned to make since and not make since at the same time, an oxymoron of jazz music.

Oh yes, they clap politely, but when the time was right it was, “Come on honey, I can’t take any more of this, let’s go”. Yes, that’s right, leave us all thee of little faith and no comprehension, the bedtime hour doth approach rapidly. And off they went in droves. It was quite a sight to see but, just think of all the many years that Ornette has watched this behavior while holding his horn on stage. What must he think and yet, he remains and continues to deliver jazz music because he stands for artistic expression. They are creations from above so it has to be right. What must it feel like to be an icon of the music that is misunderstood by many while loved and respected by the musical minority. Is Jazz the small pond? I would certainly hope not. Well, those who remained cheered extra loud to compensate for those who vacated the premise much too early. It was almost like boiling out the impurities leaving the clean pure refreshing vitamins and minerals for those who appreciate eating right; a healthy dose of music for the soul. Ornette is a cat who has been laying down beauty for years and still seems to be misunderstood. All that really matters is that he continues on his path to reach his destination and that we are still invited to go along for the ride.

I am such a big fan of the bow. I don’t think that all of the bass players of the world pull it out often enough. When Greg Cohen and Ornette do a bass and violin duo, the music takes on a whole new dimension and you can’t help but be cast in its spell. Does it make sense? YES. These cats play with a fire, passion and energy that are never ending. Each piece is like one more addition to a continuous suite of sweet music. As a grand finally, Charlie Haden comes back and joins Ornette and the band. Now we have three bass players with Greg and Tom each working the bow on both sides Charlie. Charlie is the epicenter of the diamond formation and it is like a Phil Jackson offense, world class!

Would you like to know the secret to understanding the music? Well, the secret to getting the intricacies of this music it to open up and let it be exactly what it is! Leave the drama and all of the other frustrations, judgments, relationship and money problems at the door and just except the music with malice towards none. Take the frown off of you face, this is a concept for life. Just think what the world would be like if those same principles were applied to you fellow man! Imagine that. The basis of jazz is to speak you mind, express your emotions and feel the love!

Thank you Ornette, the love was felt!

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LeRoy Downs

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