Off Minor

Musings of a Jazz geek

Ornette Coleman, at the Royal Festival Hall

Posted July 11, 2007

Ornette Coleman

Ornette Coleman quintet, at the Royal Festival Hall, 9/7/07 » Ornette Coleman (alto sax, violin, trumpet); Charnett Moffett (bass); Denardo Coleman (drums); Tony Falanga (bass); Al MacDowell (electric bass) «

Hmm… Not a lot that can be said, really… Back to the Royal Festival Hall, twice in two days, having caved in, and scraped the money together, just at the last minute (to think! that close to missing it, all through my own free will!)… Ornette Coleman, with his son Denardo on drums, and then the bass-trio backing of Charnett Moffett, Tony Falanga, and Al McDowell.

An hour long set with tunes mostly from the recent Sound Grammar recording, I think… Jordan and Sleep Talking were definitely there, with Denardo Coleman and Tony Falanga both direct from that disc.

Ornette was as piercingly rich as my first exposure to him on The Shape of Jazz to Come, even though, now, clearly quite frail. (Even his trumpet and violin managed to sound complete…) His son played full, rocking drum beats that established a strong propulsion… The three bassists mixing around the roles, and sounding great; the block sustained the sound, leaving it more solid than it would have been as just a jazz trio, perhaps, but maintaining that same slightly stripped-down immediacy. With slightly duff hearing, and a cost-saving rear-stalls eye view, it was hard to distinguish between the individual bass roles, so I’ll have to leave the specifics to others elsewhere

A contrast to the cerebral performance from the previous night; it was like getting slapped in the face by a slab of pure melody, and I just felt fully on air, really… Probably not pushing the boundaries, this Sound Grammar a traditional Atlantic-era-sounding Coleman project, but not that that left anything missing… After the standing ovation, Denardo seemed to tactfully suggest that they should play something else… And ‘Lonely Woman’ was really something else… Ornette Coleman was such a strong, formative influence on my earliest forays into jazz music, thankfully he didn’t let me down!… Outstanding, and just one of the happiest gigs I’ve ever been to… ;)

Pity that many of the seats remained unsold… £45 starting price is, in a practical sense, probably asking a little bit too much… The extra 75mm of leg room is all very nice, and the new hall looks very, very pretty, but… how much cash are they short of?

Byron Wallen Trio
A conference presentation on the Dirac equation, and its modelling of the zero-bandgap energy states of graphene, left me running to the Festival Hall just in time to miss the first few minutes of this warm-up trio… They were alright but not really on the same level… This Evening Standard review seems to be quite confused…

3 Responses to “Ornette Coleman, at the Royal Festival Hall”

GravatarAndy said:

#1 (on 11/2/2007 at 10:53 pm )

Ha, Lovely to see such clueless people writing in the Eveining Standard!

Great review of a fantastic concert. I had not been expecting too much, given Ornette’s recent health scare, so I was thrilled to hear him playing so well in a long set. And the three bassists worked wonderfully, such good sound in the new RFH!

GravatarMatt said:

#2 (on 11/2/2007 at 11:48 pm )

The three bassists were cool, but wish I had a seat closer to the front, so I could make out what they were doing a bit better…

GravatarDavid Grundy said:

#3 (on 22/2/2007 at 12:29 pm )

Hi, I’m compiling an article on the Ornette gig for a new magazine I’m starting, and, as I wasn’t there, trying to get the thoughts of those who were. Would it be OK if I quoted some of your review?
My email address is:
David Grundy

Leave a Reply