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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

3.51 | 11 ratings

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Easy Money
Special Collaborator
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3 stars In 1976 the world of jazz rock fusion was losing all of it's spark. Most of the great innovators of the early 70s were settling into mellow 'fuzak' grooves and watching the cash roll in. Miles had retired and taken his bizarre psychedelic Stockhausen/Hendrix/Sly Stone rock band with him. Billy Cobham was still making some noise, but soon he would succumb to the doldrums too. Meanwhile, in the world of rock, complacency was about to get a swift kick in the ass as The New York Dolls and The Ramones were about to take rock back to it's raw rockin roots. It's important that these two bands developed their shtick in NYC, because unlike London and the West Coast, punk rock in NYC was not as insular and it's influence spilled out onto almost every other NYC bred genre.

Did the emergence of punk rock help guide Ornette Coleman's decision to upset the boring apple cart of smooth dinner jazz, I'm not sure, but it did help set the stage in New York where artsy folks all wanted some of that raw punky ascetic in their music and other arts as well. Some even labeled Ornette's new ensemble with terms like 'punk-jazz' and 'punk- funk', but I don't recall ever hearing Coleman use any of those terms. All the same, this album was a total revolution in the world of jazz rock, and it inspired countless post-punk jazz and jazz-leaning artists to play in a more aggressive, gritty street-wise style. Some of the artists that would follow in the huge wake of this album include, Bill Laswell, Vernon Reid, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Curlew, Fred Frith's Massacre, John Zorn, Henry Threadgill, James White and Lester Bowie's Defunkt.

It is really hard to describe the music on here, Ornette's earlier avant-jazz and Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask masterpiece are about the only references I can come up with. Ronald Shannon Jackson's drumming on this album is very bizarre and does seem to carry a lot of influence from Beefheart's John French in that both are able to duplicate the sound of two drummers colliding with each other by themselves. The snarly intertwining guitars of Bern Nix and Charlie Ellerbee are fascinating and I wish Ornette would have backed off occasionally and given these guys more room to themselves.

Despite coming out of the urban New York scene, like much of Ornette's music, this album has a very rough unpolished and totally natural rural sound and feel to it. This music would sound fine being played on a porch in Mississippi with cigar box guitars and oatmeal box drums. I'm not sure how this album translates in today's music world, but when it came out in 1976, there was nothing else like it.

Easy Money | 3/5 |


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