Music

ALBUM REVIEW | JAZZ

New Vocabulary, ‘New Vocabulary’

Back in the days of yore, even those who balked at Ornette Coleman’s pan-tonal yawp were often drawn in by the infallible swing of his rhythm section and the emotional directness of his rustic melodies. This latest release — recorded in 2009, but only appearing now — offers no such consolation. Sure, there are moments, like the plaintive fragment of nursery-rhyme melody with which Coleman’s alto introduces the album opener, “Baby Food.” But from there, his alto proceeds in its own sweet, enchanting way, burbling delicate figures, bluesy and richly vocal — improvising on himself, as the critic Whitney Balliett once said. At times, the reverbed trumpet electronics (Jordan McLean) and odd snare and mallet patterns (drummer Amir Ziv) are mere backdrop atmospherics. That said, there’s some funk backbeat and gamelan gong on “Value and Knowledge,” appealing echoey elephant trumpet blasts and occasional hints at 3/4 time on “If It Takes a Hatchet,” an occasional driving free pulse, and the binding harmonic agent of Adam Holzman’s piano on three tunes. None of this is unpleasant — in fact, it’s often quite beautiful. (Out now.)

JON GARELICK

ESSENTIAL “Baby Food”

jon.garelick4@gmail.com@jgarelick
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