Gigs, dance, art

September 2nd, 2009: Ornette Coleman Quartet / Bunky Green

@la villette

Things are picking up again after the long summer break. And what a way to really kickstart it.

Bunky Green opened. I didn’t know anything about him, so I was quite curious. He’s really good, but most of the time I was not that into the music itself, a bit too smooth and precise for me. And what bothered me a little was a feeling that most of the songs followed the same pattern, with him stepping aside for a piano solo followed by a bass solo. That was a bit too predicable, and I have to say I didn’t like the piano much — not percussive enough for me. The one time they started a song with a drums solo was a welcome surprise. I did appreciate Bunky Green’s play, but I thought he was dominating too much when they played together, and never got a sense of the four of them as a unit. So I have mixed feelings about this performance.

No such reservations about Ornette Coleman, Denardo Coleman, Al MacDowell and Tony Falanga. The almost lack of solo parts was possibly more something I felt than something real, but I was really focused on enjoying the way the four meshed together while keeping a separate identity throughout. And they combined in so many ways, including a bunch that were quite new to me. Denardo Coleman was relentless, and an especially impressive driving force from the beginning. Tony Falanga could switch from a steady anchor to aimful wandering in a snap, even going for some classical stuff one time. Al MacDowell was often understated but very much worth straining for. And Ornette Coleman was of course great despite looking frail. The best was the whole though, whether each was on a separate path that made complete sense in context, or when two or three would briefly play the same thing, or some call and response bits. Another nice thing was the diverse kinds of music they went through, yet another way the set was kept unpredictable in the best way. As a final great touch, Ornette Coleman spent a whole lot of time after the show shaking hands and signing stuff from the stage, something I’ve rarely seen, especially from such a legend. He looked happy to be there.


September 3, 2009 - Posted by | Music | , ,

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