Ornette Coleman’s The Atlantic Years Reviewed

Source: Uncut.

The arrival of the Ornette Coleman Quartet in New York in the late autumn of 1959 represented one of the pivotal events of 20th century culture, comparable to the première of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite Of Spring in Paris in 1917 or Elvis Presley’s debut on the Ed Sullivan Show almost 40 years later. And, of course, with a similarly upsetting effect on the old folks. Jazz, barely half a century old, had grown used to an evolutionary process that took the music from Louis Armstrong to Miles Davis at a rapid but reasonably smooth clip. With very little warning, Coleman lit a set of booster rockets that fired the music into outer space. Suddenly musicians and observers who had thought of themselves as living on the leading edge of the music could be seen clinging desperately to the tail fins.