September 19, 1988 12:00 PM

Ornette Coleman and Prime Time with Jerry Garcia

If you have never heard Ornette Coleman’s music and have only a vague idea who he is, what are the odds that a review might persuade you to buy his latest album, No. 60 or so in a three-decade career? And even if you’re spurred to impetuous purchase by all the scintillating similes and froth a reviewer can muster, what are the odds that you will actually like it? Will you not think there is a screw loose in your turntable or—as you have suspected all along—in we who write these lines? Ah, dear Reader, we know it is a lost cause. But if you have read this far, maybe you have a sympathetic screw loose too, or you’re a compulsive Dead Head just trying to guess what Jerry Garcia has to do with it. He’s in the weave is the answer, on three cuts picking that ol’ guitar as sweetly as Buddha in a bandanna, but with more relish. His lines skim and dip while Prime Time, Coleman’s band, hyperventilates, sways and stutter-steps in the church aisles of its befunked and bedoubled (of basses, electric guitars and drum sets, two each) inimitableness. A Noah’s ark on the flood waters of American culture, looking for that rainbow where all the colors mix. And of Ornette—-Noah with an alto saxophone and a skittering violin and trumpet—can the sound of one man’s mind, like liquid speech pouring out an extraordinary portrait of his world, really be described? Lost cause. Pot of gold. But Coleman has been to the end of the rainbow, and Virgin Beauty is the treasure he has brought back. (Portrait/CBS)

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