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Artist’s Choice: Ben Allison on Ornette Coleman

Today’s top jazz performers pick 10 favorite tracks by the players, singers and styles that helped define them.

Ben Allison
Ornette Coleman

The third jazz record I ever bought was Ornette Coleman’s This Is Our Music. I had never heard anything like it before and it changed the way I thought about music. I was in high school and was just beginning to immerse myself in the world of jazz. Until that point, most of the jazz I had heard was bebop-era music, which to my teenaged, rock-loving ears sounded a bit cerebral and complex: No vocals to pull me in immediately. With Ornette (I use his first name throughout this article with all due respect), I heard something new but also somehow familiar. This was folk music, raw and edgy. It made sense to me immediately. There was blues in there, for sure. And a voice. It was a saxophone voice. I was hooked. Here are some favorites, in no particular order.

“Folk Tale”
This Is Our Music (Atlantic, 1961)

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