TONE Audio asked me for a list of albums that initially hooked me on jazz. During the next few weeks, I’m going to share 10 yesteryear titles that I always recommend, and frequently return to.
Ornette Coleman-Pat Metheny Song X Geffen
I started writing a few lines about Ornette’s Change of the Century, but then realized I was fibbing myself. Though Coleman’s Contemporary and Atlantic titles set the landscape for much of his future work, and under-heralded items such as “Eventually” and “Blues Connotation” and “Just For You” are always on a playlist somewhere in my world, the knock-out classic I’m most often reaching for is this Pat Metheny collab from 1986. A far cry from those revelatory early masterpieces, but a diamond, nonetheless. The popular guitarist and avant icon connect from start to finish. That means blitzkriegs and hushes, reveries and torments. Coleman was well down the harmolodic road at this point; Dancing In Your Head and Of Human Feelings repped the future funk and were damned near perfect in doing so. But there ain’t no funk here. This return to “swing” (“Mob Job” and “Trigonometry”), mixed with video game squeaks and wistful ballads (few musical moments can break your heart like that last note of “Kathelin Gray”) was both novel and refreshing at the time, and it remains so. Maybe my feelings for it are goosed by seeing the band live a couple times. Yes, they destroyed on stage, too.