Since September 2013, Chris Anderson, a former floor manager at the Green Mill, has been organizing a monthly series that invites local jazz musicians to assemble new groups in order to play a classic and/or overlooked album in its entirety. During its run, his Jazz Record Art Collective project has expanded its range: though the bulk of the albums celebrated have been hard bop at their core, other installments have explored free jazz or more fusion-oriented work. The next concert is on Wednesday, February 1, when a newly convened quartet called Garden of Souls performs two albums by Ornette Coleman at the Fulton Street Collective.
The group’s instrumentation mirrors that of a short-lived band Coleman assembled following the departure of longtime trumpeter Don Cherry. On New York Is Now! and Love Call, both released by Blue Note in 1968, Coleman is joined by tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones. (Garrison and Jones are probably most famous for their long and fruitful association with John Coltrane.) The records are brilliant, packed with some of Ornette’s most indelible themes and sparkling with charged yet sophisticated interactions on the front line. The elastic grooves hew to more conventional harmonic and rhythmic roles than those in Coleman’s classic quartet (where bassist Charlie Haden worked with either Billy Higgins and Ed Blackwell), but they still move with quicksilver grace, accelerating and decelerating in perfect tandem with the horns.
Garden of Souls, named for the opening track on New York Is Now!, features alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarella, whose early trio work (with bassist Anton Hatwich and drummer Frank Rosaly) is steeped in Coleman’s keening, buoyant melodicism. Mazzarella is joined by bassist Joshua Abrams, drummer Mike Reed, and tenor saxophonist Geof Bradfield, a regular participant in the series—his own Our Roots project started with a concert focused on the 1966 Clifford Jordan album of the same name. Below you can check out one of the unforgettable Coleman tunes the group will play, “Broadway Blues.”