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Lost Ornette Coleman Album Gets U.S. Release

As he approaches his 77th birthday, iconoclastic saxophonist Ornette Coleman is experiencing a resurgence. He was recently honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award as well as a “Best Jazz Instrumental” nomination for his latest album, Sound Grammar. Coleman also presented the Best New Artist award to Carried Underwood. What could be more natural?

But while Coleman forges onward, the Water label has delved into his back-catalogue to release the heretofore hopelessly obscure To Whom Who Keeps a Record. The only prior release of the album was a Japanese pressing in 1975.

The album material comes from three sessions: one from Hollywood circa Oct. 1959, and the following two from July 1960. The first track, “Music Always,” from the 1959 recordings, features Coleman’s original Change of the Century quartet line-up with Don Cherry on trumpet, Charlie Haden on bass and Billy Higgins on drums.

Following the recording session, the band went to New York to play a scorching run at Manhattan’s Bowery, continuing to tour through the spring of 1960. When the quartet returned to the studio on July 19, this time with Ed Blackwell replacing Higgins on drums, Coleman and company recorded three tracks that appear on the new release. A week later, they recorded another session from which the last three tracks (that’s seven total) are pulled. Shortly after the last session, Haden had to be hospitalized. Though he would return to play with Coleman in 1966, the quartet never again existed as it had for the sessions yielding To Whom Who Keeps a Record.

Coleman only named the tracks right before their initial release in 1975. When read together, they complete the phrase “Music Always Brings Goodness To Us All, P.S. Unless One Has (Blues Connotation No.2) Some Other Motivation For Its Use.”

Originally Published