When Ornette Coleman recorded with his ten-year old son

Ornette Coleman – The Empty Foxhole (Blue Note, 1967)

Who other than Ornette Coleman would have the idea to record a trio album with his ten-year old son as a drummer?

Still it makes sense. Listen to Coleman’s naivistic, almost childlike themes, with their simplicity and repetition and you see why his son Denardo fit right in.

The trio on The Empty Foxhole is rounded out by longtime Ornette Coleman collaborator, bassist Charlie Haden who also had the ability to play with a beautiful simplicity. Ornette plays violin and trumpet in addition to his main instrument, alto saxophone.

A steady gig

Compared to the very dense and complex music created at the same time by colleagues of Coleman as John Coltrane and Cecil Taylor this music sounds surprisingly simple. At least it does when I listen to it today. I remember being intrigued and puzzled by it when I first heard it when it was reissued on CD in the 1990s.

Ornette and Denardo would go on to record two more albums together for the Impulse label, and after a ten years long break Denardo would become Ornette’s regular drummer.

The colorful abstract art on the album cover is by Ornette Coleman himself. A previous abstract cover to Coleman’s ”Free Jazz” had a cover painting by world-famous painter Jackson Pollock but it seems like Coleman now thought he could do it all: playing violin, trumpet, making cover paintings and having his underaged son playing the drums.

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