Released as a double LP in the U.S. on the Arista Freedom label in the early '70s, this live concert captures Coleman in a transitional period that found him experimenting with contemporary classical forms as well as making more frequent use of the violin and trumpet. In many ways, it can be heard as an extension of the ideas first encountered on the ESP Town Hall Concert recording. It begins with a lengthy piece for wind quintet (on which neither Coleman nor his partners for this event, bassist David Izenson and drummer Charles Moffett, perform) that foreshadows later work such as Skies of America. While it's somewhat derivative of, even at that point, rather clichéd modernist styles, it still possesses a uniquely Coleman-ish verve and lilt. This is followed by his harrowing "Sadness," led in by Izenson's grinding arco and launched into the ether by Coleman's bone-piercing alto; it's an amazing performance. There's a brilliant reading of "Clergyman's Dream," the leader's alto never sounding creamier, rolling and bouncing over his rhythm section as naturally as a stream over boulders. His use of trumpet and violin earned him the wrath of many a jazz critic and listener at the time, those who retained an adherence to "professionalism" at all costs and couldn't understand Coleman's willful primitivism and the rationale behind it. A few years hence, they would be even more outraged when he introduced his 12-year-old son into the band as drummer. Heard now, there's an extremely refreshing freedom in his approach, one that strongly underlines his contention that innate musical ability trumps technique. An Evening with Ornette Coleman is a wonderful recording and should command a place in the collection of any serious fan of this great musician.
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AllMusic Review by Brian Olewnick