Graham Reid | | 1 min read
As someone who has listened to the great Ornette Coleman for decades but heard very little of his influence in jazz in the Eighties and Nineties, it's pleasing that in the 21st century there seems to have seen a real interest.
Today his shapeshifting and bouncing melodic lines from the late Fifties/early Sixties seem to be as much an influence – possibly even more so – than Miles Davis cool.
If you are familiar with Coleman's early, innovative music you won't need the title of Here's to Ornette on this album by leader/drummer Mark Lockett to hear the spirit of his classic quartet with bassist Charlie Haden, drummer Ed Blackwell and trumpeter Don Cherry.
Recording in New York in July 2022 with expat New Zealand bassist Matt Penman, American trumpeter Duane Eubanks (whose brothers are guitarist Kevin and trombonist Robin) and saxophonist David Binney (Norah Jones, Gil Evans, Cecil McBee and others), Lockett brought music which has the swing of the album title but with those sometimes off-kilter rhythms and shapes Coleman was known for (The Crib, G&T).
However – unlike so many Afrobeat bands which simply adopt the style of Fela Kuti's roiling music -- this group use this influence as a stepping off point. None of the musicians simply copy what Coleman's players would do but rather embrace the spirit of this inventive post-bop.
On Post Gig Blues, Binney moves backward from Coleman's Texas blues style into a more pure bop swing, Eubanks has a lyrical voice and tone often quite different to that of Cherry and there's a tight discipline on the head of Happy Go Lucky which also spins off into a sprightly swinging tune.
Sometimes there may be a slight quote or line in Coleman's melodic or rhythmic language, but that's in the nature of jazz anyway.
Swings and Roundabouts stands on it own many merits and it is pleasing to see that Lockett – with New Zealand musicians – will be taking these economic and vibrant tunes on tour (see below)
You can hear and buy this album at Thick Records here