John Coltrane - Ascension
Jul 9, 2019
It's the year 1966, change is happening in the Jazz scene, four years prior Saxophonist Ornette Coleman released his seminal album "Free Jazz", which was something of a fuse that would later lead the charge to the burgeoning free jazz movement that quickly took form toward the end of the 60s. Ornette was fearless and headstrong with "Free Jazz", embracing noticeable modal and harmonic changes that strayed from the familiar and warm sounds of the 50s, this decision to embody a more improvised based form of playing would prove to be the major heralding force to introduce free jazz to the masses.

Fresh off the brilliance of "A Love Supreme", an album that was focused, intrinsic, and momentously moving John Coltrane also saw the need for change just as any intelligent artist would note to progress the sound you embody and to push it forward and to not allow it to become a stagnant pool of repetitiveness. Coltrane then befriended many jazz artists such as Saxophinist Pharoah Sanders, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, and the young prodigy Archie shepp that also saw the importance of preserving and adding to what Ornette Coleman had begun. With already a large and dedicated following, Coltrane was unsure whether the public would accept this departure from his previous sound, but he prophetically knew that to keep Jazz alive this was a pivotal decision he had to make. If A Love Supreme is a mellow and smooth offering, Ascension is fire and brimstone, the end result of the collaboration between each of these musicians is a complete maelstrom of dissonance and improvisational mastery. Ascension is round after round of (with momentary interplay between lone saxophone, upright bass, and drums) chaotic surges of circling layers of horn and rhythmic brilliance. The entire album bursts to the seems with an urgency and intensity so enveloping its hard to calculate what actually took place. Ascension was the very lighter to Ornette Coleman's fuse that would explode the Jazz scene into the next decade.

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