20/11/2018: “Peace” by Ornette Coleman

The Shape Of Jazz To Come is a pretty good name for Ornette Coleman’s 1959 album. Although it’s not nearly as whacky and noisy as some later free jazz, it helped lay the foundations for a whole range of abrasive and crazy sounds.

Free Jazz is so named because it does away with some musical conventions, like “chords” and “structure”. This can understandably make for some challenging listening at times.

Ornette Coleman was normally not as extreme as this, and “Peace” is quite easy to listen to.

The song is played by a jazz quartet of double bass, drums, saxophone (Coleman’s instrument, made of plastic) and the trumpet. There’s a lot of improvisation, but it doesn’t feel as though the players are all playing different songs, like some later avant garde jazz…

Instead, it’s relatively peaceful, as the name would suggest, with a very slow pace. The song at points becomes almost minimal in the way it leave gaps between notes. Sometimes jazz musicians seem to be cramming all the notes they physically can into songs, so this is nice.

The album is critically acclaimed now, but at the time proved controversial. Miles Davis was one of the people who wasn’t a fan; he later pushed avante garde jazz very far.


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