Saturday, July 11, 2009

Canwest "Critics" Strike Again

A week after would-be music journalist Jeff Heinrich set off a viral storm with his hatchet-job on Maria Schneider, another Canwest writer has tried his hand at music criticism and come up sadly wanting.

In today's Ottawa Citizen, Bruce Ward decides to profile Ornette Coleman from the perspective that the saxophonist/composer hasn't really done anything since 1959.

The first sign that Ward is hopelessly lost on the subject is his assertion that Coleman's work in 1959 was overshadowed by Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue. In fact, Kind Of Blue barely caused a ripple in the jazz world at the time, while Coleman's New York City debut and the first recordings by his quartet dominated the music scene that year, with reviews—pro and con—by observers as diverse as Leonard Bernstein and Clark Terry.

To ignore Coleman's output of the past 50 years, which includes some of the most important artistic statements in any genre of music, and present him as some sort of musical anomaly is way, way below the standards a major daily should be setting.

1 comment:

Chris Rich said...


He did work with John Lennon among many others.

I can attest to his imagination and vitality in 1987 when I helped Lewis Porter commission a new work from the Mass Council of the ARts and Humanities.

It combined the original quartet of Cherry, Higgins and Haden with Prime Time and at rehearsal, it was interesting how he made several sub groups of it as sonic mass units that worked with each other in a way I've noticed among pop bands from Hausa Land in Nigeria.

I mentioned it and it piqued his interest, gave him a mix tape of Superrail Band de Bamako, a precursor to Oumou Sangare.

His keyboardist, Dave Bryant played in my building, solo, on Thursday night and Jim Hobbs is working on obtaining a working version of Skies of America from the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra to perform here.

He is getting on in years but fairly hale. Matt Lavelle goes over to his place a few times a month to learn stuff.

He did a demo of his 'In All Languages' method collaborating with the Joujouka crew from Morocco in London last month and was joined by a robust James Blood Ulmer so I'm guessing:
1. He's fine.

2. The scribbler was probably cribbing notes from Ken Burns.