Like many of you, I have had a vinyl copy of this album for years and (also, I suspect, like many of you) I haven't listened to it in years. I had read often enough to believe it that Coleman's two Contemporary albums were little more than apprentice efforts, marred by the inclusion of unsuitable West Coast musicians forced on him by the label. When I wanted to listen to early Ornette I turned to the classic Atlantic albums, especially after their box-set re-release. I probably wouldn't ever have listened to this one again either, had I not bought a 99-cent CD copy from my record club. All the more reason that I was so surprised by what I heard.
The compositions and performances on this CD are in no way inferior to any of the Atlantic recordings, and that includes the "unsuitable" sidemen-as if Percy Heath, Red Mitchell, and Shelly Manne could be unsuitable to anybody. The way that Manne establishes an immediate rapport with Coleman and his music (a subject on which Manne contributes some perceptive comments to the liner notes) is remarkable, and Mitchell's booming bass sound could easily be mistaken for Charlie Haden's. In fact, some of the cuts on this disk would make good subject matter for a blindfold test; I wager that many listeners would swear they were listening to Haden and Billy Higgins. So dig out your old vinyl copy of this record (or buy the CD) and get a new take on jazz history.