Celebrate Ornette is a tribute to the legendary Ornette Coleman, shot at his final concert in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, June 2014; and at his Memorial Service one year later at Manhattan’s The Riverside Church. This box set contains two dozen original performances from some of modern music’s most iconoclastic artists, all centered on the visionary saxophonist/composer/bandleader/thinker’s incomparable legacy of music, ideas and revolutionary spirit:
MASTER MUSICIANS OF JAJOUKA, BILL LASWELL, BRANFORD MARSALIS, BRUCE HORNSBY, CECIL TAYLOR, DAVID MURRAY, FLEA, GERI ALLEN, HENRY THREADGILL, JACK DEJONETTE, JAMES BLOOD ULMER, JASON MORAN, JOE LOVANO, JOHN ZORN, KARL BERGER, LAURIE ANDERSON, NELS CLINE, PATTI SMITH, PHAROAH SANDERS, RAVI COLTRANE, SAVION GLOVER, SONNY ROLLINS, THURSTON MOORE, YOKO ONO
CELEBRATE ORNETTE is curated by Coleman’s son and lifelong collaborator, drummer/bandleader Denardo Coleman. The PREMIUM BOX SET and The DELUXE 5 DISC GATEFOLD both comprise two DVDs, three CDs, poster, program, and a 26-page collector’s booklet with extensive liner notes by James Blood Ulmer, John Snyder, James Jordan, and Denardo Coleman.
The hand-numbered Limited Edition PREMIUM BOX SET features a cover photo from the family archive of the rarely-seen 1950’s R&B band-era Ornette with shoulder length hair and wide zoot suit shoulders. This unique edition contains a 4-volume LP set of all 24 performances from the two events, pressed on 128-gram vinyl at the legendary United Record Pressing in Nashville, Tennessee. As a special bonus, an original Ornette Coleman 10-page linen Memorial Program signed by Denardo Coleman is also included.Read More
This historic project is a harmolodic offering of two previously unseen, profoundly personal events: the tribute concert in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, “Celebrate Ornette,” documenting Ornette Coleman’s last appearance with his longtime drummer son’s band, DENARDO V I B E and Friends, in June 2014; coupled with Ornette’s Memorial Service, shot just one year later at Manhattan’s The Riverside Church, in which the visionary’s close artists pay moving spoken and musical tribute. Hearing harmolodics is always intense, but both these films capture the thinkers and musicians who helped develop it, and generations of their disciples, performing for their mentor in a special state of grace.
CELEBRATE ORNETTE displays a profound connection; a bond made by a sound expressing ideas of liberation, that transcends style, age or race. This life-and-death duo of documentaries affirms the past and the enduring future of harmolodics — Ornette’s philosophical/musical theory that both explains and embodies the expansion of the universe.
Together, the show and the sacred ceremony bookend Ornette Coleman’s unstoppable creativity in his last year and the triumphant expansion of Harmolodics.
The unconventional troupe of artists we meet in this bountiful set is linked by the open interconnection of Ornette’s harmolodic concept, in which each player enjoys individual expression precisely because they listen to their fellows so deeply. Highlighting harmolodics’ ever-changing exhilaration, the “Celebrate Ornette” set includes revealing complementary versions of some of his most-loved pieces, like “Lonely Woman” and “Peace.”
With some overlap, both films gather Ornette’s eclectic artistic tribe. The jazz Ornette helped to “free” is represented by several generations: saxman Sonny Rollins and pianist Cecil Taylor, jazz icons from the 1950s and ‘60s; compadres from the legendary downtown New York loft scene of the 1970s that Ornette helped to define, like his fellow Pulitzer winner and sax player, Henry Threadgill; the pre-eminent drummer, Jack DeJohnette, and Blues-rooted guitarist, James “Blood” Ulmer. They are joined by younger artists they helped to groom — saxophonists Ravi Coltrane, Joe Lovano and Branford Marsalis, tap dancer Savion Glover. The avant-garde that Ornette helped shape — guitarists Nels Cline and Thurston Moore; saxophonist John Zorn; bassplayer Bill Laswell; violinist, Laurie Anderson and poet Patti Smith. From a more rock orientation come keyboardist Bruce Hornsby and bass player Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Writers, thinkers and broadcasters offer responses and reminiscences, including WKCR’s Phil Schaap, founder of the long-running annual “Ornette Coleman Birthday Broadcast,” jazz critic Howard Mandel, poet Felipe Luciano, the Amsterdam News’ Herb Boyd, and sculptor Melvin Edwards, who recalls his years of friendship with Coleman, when they were “The Texas Boys.”
The Memorial includes a film-within-a-film, as seen onscreen by those sitting in church. Shot over Ornette’s legendary curation of the Meltdown Festival in London’s Royal Festival Hall in 2009, this exclusive footage is taken from a documentary that is still in progress. Performing or relaxing with close friends like Yoko Ono and her son, Ornette radiates pleasure with the community he has gathered.
Longtime musical family members, the ancestral pipes of Morocco’s Master Musicians of Jajouka, perform at each gathering and lead the memorial procession. As band leader Bachir Attar explains, their association dates back to his own father’s leadership of the troupe in the 1960s and will last always. The same enduring loyalty, respect and love permeate the contributions of all these artistic brothers and sisters of Ornette.
Extremely human circumstances surround each of these gatherings — the joyful honoring of a life, and then, so soon, it’s passing – that add special meaning to these practitioners’ work. Harmolodics lends itself to feelings without limits. Because, as Denardo notes, “It’s not that Ornette thought out of the box – he just didn’t accept that there were any boxes.”