There was a concert honoring Ornette Coleman in the park near my house tonight. Ornette’s son, the drummer Denardo Coleman, was involved. Henry Threadgill was on the bill. I planned on going, but dinner ran late and rain was on the way. As we were clearing the table I checked Twitter and there was a picture of Ornette himself sitting in. Dang! Hadn’t expected that.
We arrived during a break. The rain was close, but Weather Underground put it on the other side of the park. Other than a few drops it was humid and not too hot. A guy in a magenta suit, or maybe even pink–if you want to be unkind–came out and thanked us for our patience, and then introduced Hal Willner, who is a famed producer of lots of different music and shows. Willner puts together a tribute show each June in Prospect Park, lassoing all sorts of talent for a single night of unusual pairings and fantastic connections.
Willner started talking about how much Lou Reed loved Ornette, and how he and Lou, for the last four years of Lou’s life, had had a radio show together. It sounds like they made 80 or so shows over the years, (I assume on SiriusXM because I didn’t know about it) and the first song played on every one, Hal said, was Ornette’s Lonely Woman. He then introduced a recording from one of the shows, with Lou explaining why this is a great song, but it doesn’t need that at all. Just listen.
Willner then introduced the next band to perform: Laurie Anderson, John Zorn, Bill Laswell and the guy who invented the boxes that helped the guitars make the sounds they made on Metal Machine Music. But their performance, and what came after, is a story for another day.