The Shape of Jazz to Come
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Studio album by Ornette Coleman
Recorded May 22, 1959, United States
Genre Avant-garde jazz
Label Atlantic Records
Producer Nesuhi Ertegün
* All Music Guide 5/5 stars
The Shape of Jazz to Come is an album by Ornette Coleman. It was his debut album for Atlantic Records, who released it in late 1959.
The Shape of Jazz to Come was one of the first avant-garde jazz albums ever recorded. It was recorded in 1959 by Coleman's piano-less quartet. The album was considered shocking at the time, because it had no recognizable chord structure and included simultaneous improvisation by the performers in a much freer style than previously in jazz.
Coleman's major breakthrough was to leave out chord-playing instruments. Each selection contains a brief melody, much like the tune of a typical jazz song, then several minutes of free improvisation, followed by a repetition of the main theme; while this resembles the conventional head-solo-head structure of bebop, it abandons the use of chord structures.
The album was a breakthrough work, in that it founded the avant-garde & free jazz movement. Later avant-garde jazz was often very different from this, but the work laid the foundation for the format in which nearly all later avant-garde and free jazz would be played.
In 2003, the album was ranked number 246 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.