Free Jazz

COMPOSERS: Ornette Coleman
LABELS: Atlantic Jazz
ALBUM TITLE: Atlantic Reissues: Ornette Coleman
PERFORMER: Ornette Coleman
CATALOGUE NO: 8122-75208-2

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Atlantic Records, which this year celebrates its 50th year, has always been a different kind of jazz label. Co-founded by brothers Nesuhi and Ahmet Ertegun, Jerry Wexler and Herb Abramson, it is usually associated with world-conquering rock. But Atlantic was born out of jazz and its vaults contain some of the music’s defining moments. 

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By the time he cut Free Jazz in 1961, Ornette Coleman (the only surviving member of this illustrious group) had already divided critics over the validity of his form-less art. By directing a double quartet through wailing atonal choruses and cladding the result in a Jackson Pollock sleeve, Coleman drove the wedge deeper still. Garry Booth