Ornette Coleman's Twins (first issued on LP in 1971) has been looked at as an afterthought in many respects. A collection of sessions from 1959, 1960, and 1961 with different bands, they are allegedly takes from vinyl LP sessions commercially limited at that time to 40 minutes on vinyl, and not initially released until many years later. Connoisseurs consider this one of his better recordings in that it offers an overview of what Coleman was thinking in those pivotal years of the free bop movement rather than the concentrated efforts of The Art of the Improvisers, Change of the Century, The Shape of Jazz to Come, This Is Our Music, and of course the pivotal Free Jazz. There are three most definitive selections that define Coleman's sound and concept. "Monk & the Nun" is angular like Thelonious Monk, soulful as spiritualism, and golden with the rhythm team of bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Billy Higgins driving the sweet and sour alto sax of Coleman and piquant trumpeting of Don Cherry. "Check Up" is a wild roller coaster ride, mixing meters, tempos, and dynamics in a blender in an unforgettable display of sheer virtuosity, and featuring bassist Scott LaFaro. "Joy of a Toy" displays the playful Ornette Coleman in interval leaps, complicated bungee jumps, in many ways whimsical but not undecipherable. It is one of the most intriguing of all of Coleman's compositions. Less essential, "First Take" showcases his double quartet in a churning composition left off the original release This Is Our Music, loaded with interplay as a showcase for a precocious young trumpeter named Freddie Hubbard, the ribald bass clarinet of Eric Dolphy, and the first appearance with Coleman's groups for New Orleans drummer Ed Blackwell. "Little Symphony" has a great written line with room for solos in a joyful hard bop center with the quartet of Coleman, Cherry, Haden, and Blackwell. All in all an excellent outing for Coleman from a hodgepodge of recordings that gives a broader view of his vision and the music that would come later in the '60s.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos