20 Best Avant Albums of 2017

The year's best in ambient, noise, out-jazz, experimental electronic and more

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Ornette Coleman, 'Celebrate Ornette'
20
13/20

13. Ornette Coleman, 'Celebrate Ornette'

Ornette Coleman's influence squiggles and dances across more than 50 years, as jazzers, composers and punks all found liberation through his unique angles and rule-breaking expression. This recording of a 2014 Brooklyn tribute concert is, naturally, a wellspring of subverted expectations. Heartland rocker Bruce Hornsby blazes through a cascade of out-there sound with formalist Branford Marsalis; Flea funkily holds down the zig-zagging of Henry Threadgill on three Coleman numbers; John Zorn solos madly over a bed of drone provided by Laurie Anderson, Bill Laswell and Lou Reed guitar tech Stewart Hurwood; the frantic "Song X" is turned celebratory by the Master Musicians of Jajouka, James Blood Ulmer and more. Coleman is here too on two tracks that make up the last 19 minutes of his output – both featuring the 84-year-old legend's lyrical lightning bolts over an ensemble and tapping by Savion Glover.

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