Revinylization
Stereophile|March 2022
Round Trip: Ornette Coleman’s Blue Note sides
By Fred Kaplan

Round Trip: Ornette Coleman on Blue Note is the first boxed set on the label’s Tone Poet imprint, and it’s a bold move. Audiophiles are not known to be keen on avant-garde music, but Don Was, Blue Note’s president, and Joe Harley, the Tone Poet producer, are huge Ornette fans. They’ve lately been reissuing some other adventurous titles from the catalog—so good on them! Fellow fans should dive into this one, and the hesitant should give it a try, with some caveats.

Ornette’s classic LPs are the six he made for Atlantic Records from 1959–61, especially The Shape of Jazz to Come, which Rhino and ORG have reissued in fine pressings. After taking a five-year break from record labels, Ornette signed with Blue Note (which was going through an experimental phase) and made five albums as a leader and one rare sideman session with fellow alto saxophonist Jackie McLean. These are the six LPs in the Tone Poet boxed set.

Ornette had disbanded his classic quartet by this time and recruited a rotating roster of players for these sessions. The first two, At the “Golden Circle” Stockholm (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), are live albums recorded in Stockholm in 1965 with his old friend Charles Moffett on drums and David Izenzon on bass. Moffett plays much in the free style of Billy Higgins, but Izenzon weaves unfamiliar tensions within the rhythms and often plays arco in sync with (or against) Ornette’s tone. And the tone is gorgeous.

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