50 Best Albums of 2017

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Ornette Coleman, 'Celebrate Ornette'
50
43/50

43. Ornette Coleman, 'Celebrate Ornette'

This multimedia box set contains the last notes ever played in public by saxophone revolutionary Ornette Coleman, part of a 2014 tribute event in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. And what gorgeous notes they are, fragile lines that still drip with Coleman's trademark sense of joy and yearning. But the star-studded, three-hour-plus set also acts as a musical family tree, charting the way Coleman's liberation-music philosophy has played out across generations. We hear Flea funking away alongside Coleman's drummer son Denardo on "Broadway Blues"; Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Wilco's Nels Cline dueting on a spooky, feedback-laced version of 1962's "Sadness"; and sax geniuses Branford Marsalis, David Murray, Joe Lovano and Ravi Coltrane taking flight on Coleman's signature dirge "Lonely Woman." It's a testament to Coleman's genius that the whole set, including all of the Brooklyn show as well as cuts from Ornette's wake, sounds like the avant-garde party of the century. H.S.

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