The Blessing (Ornette Coleman)

In The Blessing on June 23, 2015 at 6:06 pm

somethingelseSomething Else!!!! (sometimes called Something Else!!!! The Music of Ornette Coleman) is the 1958 debut album by jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman. According to AllMusic, the album “shook up the jazz world”, revitalizing the union of blues and jazz and restoring “blues to their ‘classic’ beginnings in African music”. It is unusual in Coleman’s output in that it features a conventional bebop quintet instrumentation (saxophone, cornet, piano, bass and drums); after this album, Coleman would rarely use the piano, creating a starker and more fluid sound.


While working as an elevator operator in a department store in Los Angeles, Ornette assembled a group of musicians—teenaged cornet player Don Cherry, double bass player Charlie Haden, and drummers Ed Blackwell and Billy Higgins—with whom he could explore his unusual jazz compositions. Coleman was introduced to music producer Lester Koenig of Contemporary Records by a bebop bassist friend of Cherry’s, Red Mitchell, who thought Koenig might be interested in purchasing Coleman’s songs. When other musicians found the tunes too challenging, Coleman was invited to perform the compositions himself.

Though often controversial at the time, music from Coleman’s first album is now generally well received. Rolling Stone Magazine commented admiringly on the composer’s “genuinely original voice” and “freakishly structured tunes”. All About Jazz reviewer John Barrett Jr. cautions that, though dissonant, this album is not the first of the free jazz movement with which Coleman is so associated. Nevertheless, in 2007, All About Jazz credited the album with introducing “a new era in jazz”, transforming the genre by demonstrating a style of music “freed from the prevailing conventions of harmony, rhythm and melody”.

Pianist Ethan Iverson has written at length about this album and other recordings from Coleman’s early period. His argument is that on his early albums Coleman’s attempts to break free of chords and chorus-structures are hampered by sidemen who are unwilling to follow his cue.

Release history

Originally released under the Contemporary imprint, the album was re-released in 1992 on LP, compact disc and compact cassette in collaboration between Contemporary and OJC.

Track listing

All tracks composed by Ornette Coleman.

  1. “Invisible” – 4:11
  2. “The Blessing” – 4:45
  3. “Jayne” – 7:17
  4. “Chippie” – 5:37
  5. “The Disguise” – 2:46
  6. “Angel Voice” – 4:19
  7. “Alpha” – 4:09
  8. “When Will the Blues Leave?” – 4:58
  9. “The Sphinx” – 4:13


  • Ornette Coleman – alto saxophone
  • Don Cherry – cornet
  • Walter Norris – piano
  • Don Payne – double bass
  • Billy Higgins – drums
  • Lester Koenig – producer
  • Roy DuNann – engineer
  • Nat Hentoff – liner notes

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