Ornette Coleman

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Crisis Review

by Brian Olewnick

A superb and under-recognized recording, Crisis is one-third of a trilogy of extraordinary albums -- the others being Broken Shadows and Science Fiction -- by Coleman's small groups of the late '60s and early '70s. A rendition of the piece "Broken Shadows" itself, a dirge of astonishing beauty second only to his "Lonely Woman," opens the live performance and offers solos of deep and poignant probity from Coleman and tenorist Dewey Redman, whose earthy growled tones counterbalanced the leader's so well for so long. "Comme Il Faut," with its own plaintive melodic thrust, provides the base elements from which Charlie Haden excavates gold, setting the stage for his own classic composition "Song for Che," which is given one of its very finest readings. Don Cherry is in wonderful, sandblasting form throughout, bringing in thematic material from his own recent investigations into Indian and African music, and Coleman's son, Ornette Denardo, has audibly matured both in technical prowess and comfort level. Crisis somehow lacks the reputation of the revolutionary Coleman albums from early in his career, but on purely musical grounds it ranks among his most satisfying works.

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