Musical Experiment: Ornette Coleman




This is part of a continuing series, find out what it’s about here.


Here are my thoughts on Ornette Coleman:
The Shape of Jazz to Come seems to alternate between jazz songs that I really enjoy and ones that I find annoying. The opening sax crooning with rapid percussion in the background is one that gets stuck in my head, particularly on repeated listens.
On “Eventually” however, the melody that he once had is depleted by a rapid screeching that is done at a pace I could not get into at all. It may be experimental is some sense, but it is something I did not find compelling at all.

On “Peace” he changes his tune (literally) and slows it down letting the bass drive the background. At 9 minutes I think it’s the best song on the album and allows for wonderful saxophone melodies with a little bit of that rapid screeching that he seems to experiment with. It works better here, because of the length of the track.

Overall, the album really does alternate track by track with songs I like and those I don’t, it’s strange.


i find that i mostly agree with what you’ve said about the album. The album seems as though ornette first had all bass and drums and such recorded and then just literally went through the whole album and improvised with all of the saxophone playing. Which would be quite the cool feat. Yet still, much of it seems very random and obnoxious. I found myself enjoying it much more when the bass line wandered by itself as you mentioned in the song “peace” as well as on “focus on sanity”.

It definitely wasn’t my favorite jazz album to listen to. It was almost a struggle sometimes to even get through. I also found the name of the album very interesting. This guy was either really confident that his music would be influential, or just cocky (maybe both). Although (i’m assuming that) it ended up being fairly influential, so more power to him.


Yes I believe it was quite an influential album (that’s why it showed up on lists and, well, why we’re even discussing it). Actually, there was a punk/hardcore band in the 90’s called The Refused that riffed on this album’s title and called theirs “The Shape of Punk to Come” which ended up being quite influential too.

I really do like “Peace” though and would listen to it just for fun.

Also, apparently (according to Wikipedia) this laid a lot of the ground work for free jazz and avant-garde jazz that would come later, because it did not use any instruments with chords and also features a few minutes of improvisation in each track. So I guess you were on the right track with that one.


yeah i try to avoid looking at the wikipedia page. that way my views aren’t slanted. that’s pretty funny though. Basically all you have to do to influence a genre is to name it: “the shape of (insert genre here) to come”.

Favorite tracks:

Jacob: “Peace”, “Lonely Woman”

Taylor: “Sanity”, “Peace”

Listen to “Peace” by Ornette Coleman:

Coming next we enter the ’60’s with Rolling Stones’ “Let it Bleed”

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