Although it’s been a while, I have listened to a lot of Ornette Coleman over the years. That said, I’ve never completely made friends with this record. I have enjoyed his smaller groups more, and although they are just a starting point for the group improvisation, I like a lot of his tunes. Regardless, this is an important work that’s been good to revisit.
Free Jazz, recorded December 1960 by Tom Dowd for Atlantic, features a double quartet (split into separate channels when in stereo): Ornette, Don Cherry, Scott LaFaro, and Billy Higgins on one side; Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, Charlie Haden, and Ed Blackwell on the other. It’s a sprawling continuous improvisation that fills both sides of an LP with only a few short themes used throughout. It was the first record of it’s kind–there are individual soloists, but it’s often a true large group improvisation.
This is a white label promo copy in mono–I believe this is better is stereo with each quartet on a side, the mono version is a bit dense. The vinyl shows wear and has some noise, but is still enjoyable. The gatefold cover is very cool–it features part of Jackson Pollack’s White Light visible through a cutout in front. The full painting is inside the gatefold.
(Details: Atlantic 1364 mono/WLP/”white fan” logo)