Old And New Dreams – Universal Music Group

by | Jun 23, 2024 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Universal Music Group releases a third album in the ECM Luminessence series.

Old And New Dreams – ECM Records ECM 1154 (1979)/Universal Music Group (2023) 180-gram stereo vinyl, 46:37 ****1/2:

(Don Cherry – pocket trumpet, piano; Dewey Redman – tenor saxophone, musette; Charlie Haden – bass; Ed Blackwell – drums)

Old And New Dreams was a jazz quartet featuring Don Cherry (trumpet), Dewey Redman (tenor saxophone), Charlie Haden (bass) and Ed Blackwell (drums). In the late 70’s and 80’s, the band released albums for the ECM and Black Saint labels. Part of their essence was a musical connection to Ornate Coleman. They recorded many of his compositions, as well as their own originals. Their sound has been described as “original free jazz”, eclectic and complex. These four musicians were prolific in their own right, and enjoyed sustained careers.

Universal Music Group has released a `180-gram remastered vinyl of the self-titled ECM album (part of the Luminessence series). On the first Coleman song (“Lonely Woman”), Charlie Haden opens gracefully on bass, Ed Blackwell keeps time with precision and force. Cherry and Redman play together and in counterpoint with different styles. Cherry’s trumpet is crisp and punctuated, while Redman (who has the first solo) is free flowing with exotic motifs. Haden and Blackwell maintain an emphatic pulse. Cherry enters with clear-vibrato-less tonality. His crisp timing and phrasing is compelling, and he executes hushed plaintive moments with deftness. Haden’s extended solo is equally riveting, and when the quartet reunites, there is a hypnotic resonance. On the first original number, “Togo”, composer Blackwell lays down a relentlessly ferocious drum solo with African-infused patterns. The drumming is the focus of the number and is inventive and exhilarating. Both Cherry and Redman add brief accents. The next composition, “Guinea” comes from Cherry. The song begins with a soaring melodic trumpet run that is presented with the trademark “quiet” studio acoustics. When the band comes together, it approximates a jaunty blues translation with Cherry wailing. Redman’s solo is muscular and is backed by piano. Haden’s syncopated bass lines and Blackwell’s steady rhythm are impeccable. When trumpet and saxophone trade licks, the music soars.

Side 2 kicks off with a second Coleman piece, “Open Or Close”. Redman starts out with a frenetic lead as the rhythm section engages in  bebop-like swing. He stretches the instrumental tonality. Cherry goes next and distills the unbridled energy with shrill notation. Haden delivers a sinewy run that offers a nice counterpoint. Blackwell’s drumming is furious and both Cherry and Redman play off the rhythm with screeching tones. The final cuts reflect adventurous free-jazz aesthetics. “Orbit Of La-Ba” showcases Redman’s atonal, and at times dissonant lines with what feels like Middle-Eastern shading. This unrestrained play is accompanied by the bass/drum groove. Cherry’s solo is melodic. At times, it seems like the musicians are in four separate orbits, but it flows together. Haden’s note-bending is impressive. “Song For The Whales” embraces avant-garde dynamics as the instrumentals recreate whale sounds. The final part of the song features a mournful jazzy harmony with saxophone and trumpet.

Old And New Dreams is a testament to the formidable influence of Ornette Coleman. It is also a reminder of the independent and creative spirit of ECM Records. The re-mastered sound mix is vibrant with excellent separation. All of the different instrumental tonalities are presented in pristine studio acoustics. The album gatefold and protective sleeve are top-notch.  

Old And New Dreams

Side 1: Lonely Woman; Togo; Guinea
Side 2: Open Or Close; Orbit Of La-Ba; Song For The Whales.    

—Robbie Gerson

More information available through ECM

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Album Cover for Old And New Dreams

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