Ornette Coleman

Jazzbuhne Berlin '88

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Recorded some 14 years after its first incarnation, this live recording indicates that Ornette Coleman's Prime Time band hadn't evolved too much either in its group sound or in the leader's conception. Despite Coleman's insistence that his bands followed his "harmolodic" theory of improvisation, under which all musicians had equal footing at all times, the listener is hard pressed to hear the group as much else besides Coleman soloing (often quite beautifully) over a relatively banal funk back-up band. The group's interaction sounds thin and almost routine; little inspiration is heard either in their solos or massed activity. Coleman's son Denardo and guitarist Bern Nix have shown in other contexts that they can be formidable players, but here they and the rest of the band seem generally willing to opt for complacency and second fiddle status. Prime Time developed into a relatively popular project largely due to, one assumes, instrumental electrification and the use of funk and rock rhythms. But the absence of incredible musicians like Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, and Ed Blackwell and the telepathic interplay they shared with Coleman is a loss that makes itself felt with virtually every note. Fans of other Prime Time releases will find similar fare here though, a decade and a half into its existence, what gleam there was has begun to fade.

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