Few artists have generated the firestorm of controversy that Ornette Coleman has with his musical concept. As the first to explore free improvisation, Coleman has been a lightning rod for enormous praise and vicious criticism from musicians and listeners alike. Arguably the most influential musician since Charlie Parker, Coleman is one of the most prolific post-bop composers having penned all of the material on over 30 albums.
The more than seven hours of music on this six CD set was recorded between May 1959 and March 1961 and includes Ornette's entire body of work released on Atlantic Records; nine albums, six unreleased compositions and two large ensemble contributions to Gunther Schuller's Jazz Abstraction.
Included is the stunning 36-minute double quartet collective improvisation Free Jazz, To Whom Keeps a Record, previously available only in Japan, and the long lost Ornette! Coleman's quartet recordings of this period are comparable to the Louis Armstrong Hot Five and Hot Seven sessions and the Charlie Parker Dial and Savoy quintets in importance.
A significant benefit of the CD remastering process is the enhanced clarity of the instruments and the increased audibility of the acoustic bass.
Packaged with a 70-page booklet containing original album art, candid impressions and observations from musical peers, rare photographs, and wonderful liner notes by Robert Palmer, Beauty is a Rare Thing is a marvelous compilation and a fabulous tribute to a genius of modern jazz.
Ornette Coleman: Beauty is a Rare Thing (Rhino)