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Skies Of America by Ornette Coleman
Released: Jan 1972
Label: Columbia/Legacy
The recording was rushed. The London Symphony Orchestra was a bit stiff. Ornette's backing band was barred due to union rules. So what? None of that infamous backstage drama can fade Coleman's shine during his bracing jazz-orchestral opus. The saxophonist/composer's uncanny feel for melody will be familiar to fans of his traditional albums (check the jabbing riff of "Holiday for Heroes"). The only thing that can make it better is when Ornette solos over the ensemble (starting with "The Artist in America"). Soulful, urgent and harmonically unique, the album is a landmark of American art.
Seth Colter Walls

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