Pat Metheny - Ornette Coleman - Song X
Label: Geffen Records
Catalog#: 9 24095-1
Format: Vinyl, LP
Style: Free Jazz
Credits: Bass - Charlie Haden
Drums - Jack DeJohnette
Drums, Percussion - Denardo Coleman
Engineer - Jan-Erik Kongshaug
Guitar, Guitar [Synth], Producer - Pat Metheny
Saxophone [Alto], Violin - Ornette Coleman
Notes: Recorded "live" December 12-14, 1985 at The Power Station, NYC. Cover design by Norman Moore, photography by David A. Cantor. Tracks A1, A2, B1 & B5 composed by Coleman, A3, B2, B3 & B4 by Metheny/Coleman.
A1 Song X
A2 Mob Job
A3 Endangered Species
B1 Video Games
B2 Kathelin Gray
B4 Song X Duo
B5 Long Time No See
All the outrage and confusion engendered by this record could be alleviated by recognition of a simple fact -- this is an Ornette Coleman record, not a Pat Metheny record. It was a great gesture on Metheny's part to offer Ornette star billing on "his record" on Geffen, and he surprised us by playing quite well with the master, but it's not a balanced collaboration. Ornette is clearly the leader, and Metheny a sideman and arranger, in the sense of putting together the band. With a clear recognition of Metheny's contribution, we can only thank him immensely!
Since he put together his Prime Time band, Ornette has had an unfortunate tendency to play with younger musicians that offer him no challenge. (As opposed, say, to Cecil Taylor, who positively thrives on playing with the most advanced improvisers.) Here on SONG X, Ornette is pushed to some of his best and most inspired playing by Haden, DeJohnette, and yes, by Metheny, both on the wild side and on the lyrical side.
I saw Ornette with Prime Time in 1982 and 1987, and I saw the SONG X tour in between. Interestingly, Prime Time sounded better live than the band with Metheny, but of studio documents, SONG X is far better than anything ever recorded by Prime Time. (I hope the live Prime Time recording, OPENING THE CARAVAN OF DREAMS, will be re-released soon, an outstanding document of the early-mid '80s band that I saw in Chicago in 1982.)