September 2000

Ornette Coleman
Dancing in Your Head
Verve

Dancing in Your Head is a strangely fascinating document that wears thin pretty quickly and doesn’t bear as many repeated listenings as Science Fiction. This is the album, originally released in 1976 on A&M, that introduced Ornette’s electric Prime Time band—Bern Nix and Charles Ellerbee on guitars, Ronald Shannon Jackson on drums and Jamaaladeen Tacuma on bass—on two variations of “Theme from a Sym-phony,” aka “School Work,” recast here as a tepid funk vamp. The first version goes on for about 16 minutes—about 12 past the annoyance point—and the second adds another 11 minutes for those who crave more irritation. The rest of this brief CD documents Coleman's 1973 collaboration in Morocco with the Master Musicians of Joujouka. The newly discovered (and far superior) alternate take of "Midnight Sunrise" features Coleman engaging in some ecstatic call-and-response with writer Robert Palmer, whose clarinet was completely drowned out in the original mix. But on this alternate take, spurred on by the nontempered, trance-inducing power of the Joujoukans, he sounds positively possessed. It's good that Verve decided to include these inspired moments to this reissue, adding to the rich legacy of the late, great Robert Palmer—and Ornette Coleman.

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Johanna Goodman

illustration of Ornette Coleman

Originally published in September 2000
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