With two landmark albums already under its belt, the Ornette Coleman Quartet spent nearly a year out of the studio before reconvening for This Is Our Music. This time, Billy Higgins is replaced on drums by Ed Blackwell, who has a similar knack for anticipating the ensemble's direction, and proves a more fiery presence on tracks like "Kaleidoscope" and "Folk Tale." The session is also notable for containing the only standard (or, for that matter, the only non-original) Coleman recorded during his tenure with Atlantic -- Gershwin's "Embraceable You," which is given a lyrical interpretation and even a rather old-time, sentimental intro (which may or may not be sarcastic, but really is pretty). In general, though, Coleman disapproved of giving up his own voice and viewed standards as concessions to popular taste; as the unapologetic title of the album makes clear, he wanted to be taken (or left) on his own terms. And that word "our" also makes clear just how important the concept of group improvisation was to Coleman's goals. Anyone can improvise whenever he feels like it, and the players share such empathy that each knows how to add to the feeling of the ensemble without undermining its egalitarian sense of give and take. Their stark, thin textures were highly distinctive, and both Coleman and Cherry chose instruments (respectively, an alto made of plastic rather than brass and a pocket trumpet or cornet instead of a standard trumpet) to accentuate that quality. It's all showcased to best effect here on the hard-swinging "Blues Connotation" and the haunting "Beauty Is a Rare Thing," though pretty much every composition has something to recommend it. All in all, This Is Our Music keeps one of the hottest creative streaks in jazz history going strong.
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey
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