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Joachim Kühn: Melodic Ornette Coleman (ACT)

A review of the pianist's album featuring unrecorded Ornette Coleman songs

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Melodic Ornette Coleman by Joachim Kühn
The cover of Melodic Ornette Coleman by Joachim Kühn

Let’s be honest: A solo piano recording of what is described as Ornette Coleman’s “most beautiful melodies and ballads” will likely seem, to some jazz fans, like someone’s idea of a prank. And yet, what Joachim Kühn delivers with Melodic Ornette Coleman is a vivid reminder not only of Coleman’s compositional gifts but also of how much harmonic potential his often-chordless melodies carried.

Kühn’s stake in these pieces is deep. He and Coleman worked as a duo between 1995 and 2000, playing 16 concerts together but releasing only one album, the now-deleted Colors (1996). According to Kühn’s liner notes, Coleman wrote an entirely new set of pieces for each show, leaving the pianist a library of some 170 unrecorded tunes. He performs 11 of them here.

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