January 27, 2009

Ornette Coleman, Virgin Beauty (1988)

Album of the Day, Month, Year: Ornette Coleman's Virgin Beauty

I bought this album probably not too long after it came out in 1988, didn’t like it and put it away. Don’t think I’ve heard it since. First of all, Jerry Garcia on guitar struck me as a cop out. Unlike most of my generation I was never a Dead Head. Born and raised on John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Archie Sheep, Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, Monk and Miles, Charles Lloyd, John Handy (and James Brown) -- the Dead always bored me my to tears. I went to one concert and feel asleep. (I did like the Dead’s first album a lot – haven’t heard that for years either. Still have the LP but never play vinyl anymore.)

Anyway, in the fashion of Ornette’s early, great double quartets, Bernie Nix and Charles Ellerbee also play guitar on Virgin Beauty. Al McDowell and Chris Walker contribute dizzying, syncopated, snappy, cracking, trebly bass lines. Denardo Coleman and Calvin Weston fire up the drums. The only voice not doubled is Ornette’s horn.

Listening to it my studio yesterday, I was transfixed, knocked out, in love, amazed, captivated. I danced all by myself for nearly an hour. This is a great band swinging, funking, rocking and bluesing with that crazy, piercing alto totally in command over all the commotion. And then, there’s a magnificent, soulful Ornette solo at the end. What was I thinking? Ornette’s always ahead of the curve, but how could it take me so long to catch up with this one?


budh.aaah said...

This is an amazing blog, thanks for the great information..Keep it up

Marc Beaudin said...

Hi, I'm the host of Report from the Mountains, a poetry/jazz radio show on a Michigan public radio station, and online. My latest episode features "3 Wishes" from Virgin Beauty and I include a link to this page. (I try to link to interesting blogs that relate to the music I play rather than the damnAmazon.com page that doesn't need my help in promoting.)

You can check out the episode here: Report #27


Unknown said...

here here! I've had Coleman's 'Shape of Jazz to Come' for years but never dared extend myself further. At first listen his music seems dissonant and jarring. The bass on this album is incredible, especially "Honeymooners".