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Ornette Coleman & Prime Time - Dancing In Your Head ( as Ornette Coleman) CD (album) cover


Ornette Coleman & Prime Time


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.52 | 10 ratings

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4 stars Taunting teasing bobbing music

The 50s and 60s gave birth to a lot of cool and progressive jazz approaches that most vividly continued to fan out in all kinds of differentiating colours, shapes and sizes. Ornette Coleman released one of his pivotal records called The Shape of Jazz to come way back in 1959, and in many ways you could say that he foresaw a lot of things that made the impending experimentalism of the following decades so dense, free and I guess to some folks - too long away from the original roots in melodious blues music.

Ornette threw the manual in the bin straight away - and continued to do so when this band arouse to its feet in 1976, where the music business along with its crowd had changed quite a bit since the late 50s. We are talking humongous steps here, and that still doesn't quite put into focus just how much had changed in terms of experimenting with the musical palette. Fusion, prog and the avant guarde had suddenly popped by - and as a result of this, we now heard a man like Lou Reed releasing Metal Machine Music, and David Bowie all of a sudden turned Krautrock and strangely musically absent- minded with some help from Brian Eno. Pop stars dishing out avant releases as well as the opposite happening with bands like Weather Report and Nucleus that by now had turned infinitely more laid back and smooth. Everything was upside down, ready to be tried out, discarded or frowned upon.

Then you may be thinking this release sounds like a James Brown album, seeing as the tables were turning on artists and everybody was trying out new things, and though entirely unlike James Brown in nature and moods, this album is funky and sweaty like a well trained Jean Claude Van-Damme of the fusion world. It feels earthy and funky in a highly insecure way. We're talking mirage-funk here people! Somehow this Ornette Coleman gem named Dancing in Your Head manages to come out of the pen like a crazed horse with all the confidence of a drunk exotic dancer wearing a great big furry gorilla brassiere. First and foremost, Dancing in Your Head is bouncy like no other album - and in a manner that doesn't exactly inspire shake dat booty a la The Commodores-dancing, but more like operating a unicycle on a fisher boat in heavy seas. Wuuuooooopppp here we go!!! Bizarre tightrope balancing to say the least...

Frantic and sharp guitar riffage was the first thing that struck me. Not because it is the most prominent facet in the music, but I have honestly never heard anything like it from these urban jazz territories. Then you've got the drumming, which is bizarrely off-kilter and sounds like huge gulps of tinder being dropped in a hamper from the 2. floor. Jumping up and down like a small but highly overweight puppy, it struggles to keep time, rhythm and focus, but always stays impeccably tight and cacophonous like a chu chu train with a serious cough. Gluing this spectacle together, and forming the last leg of the rhythm section is bassist Rudy MacDaniel who thankfully pulls, heaves and contorts those elastic bands like a regular pasta masseur from down-town Naples. It helps the music along and generates a purposeful, groovy and wobbly foundation for the sax to run amok over.

Then we've got the main ingredient of our meal, which not too surprisingly is the saxophone. If you've ever heard Zappa's The Gumbo Variations before, then imagine this track being flung into a bonfire with radioactive mercury, silver bananas and a hefty dosage of nectarines and smack. This is New York right here! The playful and almost taunting wails of the sax are like a nine year old yelling: NAAHH NA NAH NAAAHH NAAHH!!! I feel reduced to a teasing toddler with a serious grin on my face, whenever I put this album on. It's like magic.

And no matter how much music that's been made in the decades following this album - music that sounds terrifyingly close to the one offered up here on Dancing in Your Head, - just remember that this was and still is the real deal! Nothing sounded like it back then, and while I struggle to find the appropriate words to give the album a fair parting gift in the form of a well described musical image, I fail to do just that, and I think it's mainly to do with this record's unique, rootless and innovative feel. The reason why I enjoy it so much, is because of all its contradictions. It is, above all, this album's opposite sides that together generate a powerful and most enjoyable ride, which was sonically unparalleled for a very long time. Had this album been just a tiny bit longer, I'd have given it the full monty, but as it is: 4.5 stars.

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |


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