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Nana’s Sunday Jams: Song for Che - Ornette Coleman

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Nana’s Sunday Jams: Song for Che - Ornette Coleman

Banner artwork by the majestic Trav, all of Nana's jams are gathered in this playlist.


Yes Yes Yes Sunday Jammers. Welcome and hello to you and you and you. Hope you are well, staying safe and managing to stay sane.

Just want to send a shout out to some lovely people who sent me some kind words and others some gentle correcting words about last week’s post. So, the correction first I, did not mention that the era of Jazz I posted about last week was rooted in the ragtime moving into the bebop era – a bit more specific than the club era, so thank you watch hawks.

This week it’s slightly shorter, not because there is less to say; it’s because there is so much to say and has been said about today’s artist so all that’s really left is the listening. Today’s track is ‘Song for Che’ from the live album Crisis, by founding Father of Free Jazz and abstract maestro, Ornette Coleman. I owe this one to my Mother and what seemed like millions of music festivals that she took my siblings and I too as children. At one point it felt like we spent every weekend of our summer at Finsbury Park, Alexandra Palace, Highbury Fields and on – in part we did because she had a food stall but the other parts because of her love of music, especially live music. During one of these jaunts we saw Ornette Coleman play. I remember it being confusing and frenetic but being very aware that the audience around me were rapt and almost reverent. It would take a while before I understood why and that’s only been cemented over the last few weeks.

Coleman took Jazz and moved away from the bebop post ragtime influences. Like the abstract painters of the art world Coleman deconstructed the form and created something new. Moving away from chordal and harmony-based playing to something grounded in improvisation, often jarring and as I said, frenetic. I get the rapture now. This beauty of a track features the talents of Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden and his son Denardo Coleman. The track was penned by Haden, so not strictly Coleman, but he was part of the line-up and a musical collaborator. This later album is not considered as revolutionary as his earlier work, it feels like Coleman might have made a return of sorts to the harmony- based sounds of earlier, but now voiced in his own style.

This track is mesmerising, rousing, beautiful and introspective, so much so that it makes every nerve ending stand up; it’s full of depth and soul, trumpet and saxophone soar over the top, the bass provides heart and there is an inflection of a Mexican/Spanish guitar rhythm. So, so beautiful. Find a place to sit still when listening and if you have decent speakers - or headphones - turn it up loud and lie down so you can hear it play above you - or whatever way you like. Happy Sunday.