Tomorrow Is The Question! is Ornette Coleman’s second album. On his debut, Something Else!!! he was contractually obliged to feature a piano. It was obviously a sore-point as here there is no room for pianist. By removing the harmonic structure a piano brought, Coleman felt that the drums of Shelly Manne, trumpet of Don Cherry and bass of Percy Heath and Red Mitchell (playing duties were shared), were free to explore new reaches of jazz. This is an essential piece of pioneering free jazz.
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- Tomorrow is the Question! by Ornette Coleman
8/10 George Customer review, 25th April 2015
On his sophomore LP, we hear Ornette Coleman diverge only slightly from the unique sound defined on this album's predecessor, 'Something Else!!!!'. Many casual Jazz fans may recognise Coleman as an established name in the development of Free Jazz, but these first albums of his show a very different picture of this extraordinary and somewhat idiosyncratic saxophonist. The authentically individual voice and thoroughly structured compositions of Coleman's first full-length record shine through on 'Tomorrow Is the Question!', with the arrangement styles of many of these tracks feeling even tighter, and yet more frantic, than those of his debut. As a key innovator of Free Jazz in his later works, many fans may be uncertain about delving into these early recordings of Coleman, but the exciting, flashy and borderline-provocative melodies and solos on this album, along with its predecessor, are not unlikely to win over the most 'out-there' of Jazz enthusiasts.
In terms of the line-up on this release, Coleman adopts the quartet structure (lacking in piano) that made a name for him on Atlantic Records (this album was his last on Contemporary Records). Some big names join Coleman on this record, such as Shelly Manne on drums, Percy Heath and Red Mitchell alternating on bass, and, perhaps most notably for Free Jazz fans, Don Cherry on trumpet. Some fans (myself included) may believe that the likes of Scott LaFaro, Billy Higgins, Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell were more vital in the advancement of Coleman's voice and musical persona, but that is not to say that the contributions of his earlier guest performers should be overlooked, just as this particular album should by no means be overlooked.
Overall, while this album may not get the blood of certain Jazz aficionados boiling like his later work, many of these tracks (most noticeably 'Rejoicing') are impressive, lively, dramatic, and downright fun, with Coleman really showing off his ability to hold a piece tightly together, regardless of how hectic things may become. If nothing else, this album is an interesting listen for hardcore Jazz fans to fully comprehend the development of this key contributor to Free Jazz and its evolution as a genre.
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