Saturday, August 26, 2017

Prime Time

Ornette Coleman : Theme From a Symphony

I go through jazz phases but it's rare that my pop loving ears can sit through minutes of dissonance. And yet, here we go. Dancing In Your Head just may be the punkiest punk record of 1977. The first thing you hear is some funky electric guitar from Bern Nix and Charlie Ellerbee. There's the bass from Rudy McDowell and drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson. This is Ornette Coleman's new supporting band, Prime Time, at work. Before you can tap a foot, twelve seconds in, here comes Ornette blasting away with this playground taunt of a tune. It's a bit extreme and not welcome in the car when my wife is sitting next to me. 

Interesting to note Wire Magazine listed Dancing In Your Head  among the "100 Records That Set The World On Fire (While No One Was Listening)".

Robert Chritsgau gave the album an A to what would be the first jazz album to ever make the final list of the Pazz and Jop Critics poll, finishing #15 ahead of David Bowie's Heroes and Peter Gabriel's debut.  Christgau writing:

Some may have hoped the greatest saxophone player alive would go the Weather Report route on his first small-group record since 1971, but I'm reminded more of the programmed synthesizers of Eno and Philip Glass. Basically, the record consists of charged repetitions of one motif from Coleman's symphony, Skies of America. The difference is that where most such music aims for a hypnotic effect, Coleman wants more: a sustained and formally satisfying version of the kind of galvanic intensity John McLaughlin used to create at climatic moments. He gets it, too.

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