Each month Peter Batten recommends a recording that jazz fans may wish to add to their personal library.
The Shape of Jazz to Come
As the 1950s came to an end, jazz appeared to be in a very healthy state. Thelonious Monk was accepted by a much wider public. Miles Davis was attracting a bigger and bigger audience. Art Blakey and Horace Silver were leading established groups which would have a healthy future. John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins were developing their music and influencing a new generation of jazzmen.
Suddenly a musician and a group appeared to challenge both musicians and fans by asking them to think again about some of the fundamentals of our music. That musician was Ornette Coleman and his piano-less quartet with Don Cherry, Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins. The first reaction was incomprehension and often anger. Now we can see that this shock was invaluable. It opened up the scope of jazz in ways that are still being explored. That is why I recommend this album. It should have its place in any serious jazz collection. Its first title Lonely Woman was covered by groups in many different styles, including the Modern Jazz Quartet.
[The Shape of Jazz to Come is on Atlantic Masters CD 8122731332]