Chris Pasin - Ornettiquette

Label: Planet Arts Recordings, 2018

Personnel - Chris Pasin: trumpet; Adam Siegel: saxophone; Karl Berger: piano, vibraphone; Ingrid Sertso: vocals; Michael Bisio: acoustic bass; Harvey Sorgen: drums.


Chris Pasin is a proficient trumpeter that feels equally comfortable in the avant-garde and straight-ahead jazz currents. When listening to the ecstatic Ornettiquette, his fourth album as a leader and a gorgeous tribute to Ornette Coleman/Don Cherry conjoint work, it’s hard to remember that his versatility made him collaborate with celebrated singers such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Nancy Wilson, and Sarah Vaughan.

To achieve the adventuresome fluidity required for a tribute of this kind, Pasin hired competent musicians, two of which had worked together with Coleman and Cherry in the past, namely, vocalist Ingrid Sertso and pianist/vibraphonist Karl Berger. While the bandleader teams up with alto saxophonist Adam Siegel in the frontline, the foundation is entrusted to bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Harvey Sorgen, who effortlessly disseminate swing and shuffle rhythms throughout the recording.

The album opens and closes with Pasin compositions, “OCDC” and “PTU”, respectively. The former, titled with the initials of the avant-jazz pioneers who are honored here, thrives with typical exclamations of the genre and has Pasin exploring with evocative melodic ideas after catching the tail of Siegel’s solo. Showing his mastery of the lower registers, Bisio embarks on a fine pizzicato narration, yet he sounds even more attractive on Coleman’s celebrated “Lonely Woman”, where his rasping, legato arco bass claims the spotlight. The song is earnestly sung by Sertso, who also shines on Albert Ayler’s “Ghosts”, an all-favorite free jazz piece, here piqued by the direct communication established between Pasin and Berger. Sertso, who wrote the lyrics, finishes it with ‘we love you, Albert Ayler’.

The blues-based free bop of “Tomorrow Is The Question”, the balladic intonations of “Just For You”, and the linear bop curves of “When Will The Blues Leave” can be enjoyed in this recording, however, no Coleman composition sounds better than “Jayne”, which overflows with joy and emotion while carrying an inherent Latin touch. If Berger harmonizes it with heart and extemporizes with inspiration after responding to his colleagues’ provocations, then Siegel flies high with a swaggering, raucous tone adorned here and there with cheeky squeaks.

By blending freedom and lyrical intensity with panache, Pasin and his bandmates provide us with ear-catching moments that are colorful and jubilant at the same extent. Ornettiquette is a competent revival of classic avant-jazz from the late ‘50s and early ‘60s.

Grade  B+

Grade B+

Favorite Tracks:
02 - Jayne ► 03 - Ghosts ► 07 - Lonely Woman