Ornette Coleman and Joachim Káhn: Colors

COMPOSERS: Ornette Coleman
LABELS: Harmolodic
PERFORMER: Coleman (as, tpt, vn); Kühn (p)
CATALOGUE NO: 537 789-2

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‘A constant musical inspiration for forty years’ is how Leipzig-born pianist Joachim Kühn describes US saxophonist/composer Ornette Coleman. The American’s groundbreaking late-Fifties free-jazz recordings were crucial in encouraging Kühn, then in his mid-teens, to switch from classical to jazz studies, so the extraordinary sympathy he demonstrates for Coleman’s music throughout this superb live duo album is hardly unexpected.

The way the two men’s styles gel, though, is quite remarkable, given that Kühn is tutored, prolix, intensely lyrical yet vigorously passionate, and Coleman is in many ways his polar opposite, being self-taught, spare, blues-drenched and astringent.

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In all eight pieces that make up this August 1996 concert, even those involving Coleman’s famously individual trumpet and violin playing, Kühn manages not only to provide solid ground upon which Coleman’s freedom can flourish, but also subtly to structure the American’s music, while asserting himself as an equal in his improvising passages; the result is one of the most intriguing – and stimulating – live jazz albums of recent years. CP