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At the Golden Circle Vol. 1 (1965)

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Ornette Coleman

Ornette Coleman's 1965 trio with bassist David Izenzon and drummer Charles Moffett is easily the most underrated of all his bands. Coming off the light of the famed quartet in which Don Cherry, Eddie Blackwell, and Charlie Haden shone, anything might have looked a bit dimmer, it's true. But this band certainly had no apologies to make. Coleman was deep into creating a new approach to melody, since Haden and Cherry had honed his harmonic sensibilities. Izenzon proved to be the right bassist for Coleman to realize his ambitions. A stunning arco as well as pizzicato player (check his solo in "Dawn") Izenzon offered Coleman the perfect foil. No matter where Coleman's soloing moved the band, Izenzon was there at exactly the same time with an uncanny sense of counterpoint, and he often changed the harmonic mode by force. The first of these two volumes from December 3 shows Coleman in a playful, mischievous frame of mind, toying with the trio ads well as the audience on "Faces and Places" by inserting standard bop phrases and song quotes into the heart of his free soloing. On "Dee Dee," Coleman moves along to rhythmic counterpoint by Moffett, pushing Izenzon into the unlikely role of beat-keeper -- not simple for such an amazing improviser. But it's on the closer, "Dawn," that the band gels as one inseparable, ethereal unit, cascading through scalar invention and chromatic interplay as if it were second nature. ~ Thom Jurek