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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Lonely Woman

By Stef

Twelve years ago, in January 2007, I wrote my first short appreciation of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" on this blog, a composition that is clearly not only admired by myself, but by almost any jazz musician, from the most traditional to the most avant-garde. In the meantime, we have reached more than 200 covers and interpretations of the immortal song.

Here's a new update, with some new albums released in 2018 and 2017, adding to the last one from 2015, written just after Coleman's death.

A few are worth mentioning in more detail.


The true winner - even if this is not a competition - is the great performance by Wojciech Jachna on his solo album "Emanacje", on which the Polish trumpeter gives a stellar performance of Lonely Woman for trumpet with Kubo Ziolek on guitar. His tone is pure, plaintive and sad. Trumpeter Chris Pasin gives his take on his album "Ornettiquette" with Ingrid Sertso on vocals, Michael Bisio on bass, Adam Siegel on sax, Karl Berger on vibes and Harvey Sorgen on drums. In 2017, cornettist Kirk Knuffke released a tribute album to Don Cherry, called "Cherryco", in a trio with Adam Nussbaum on drums and Jay Anderson on bass. His interpretation is short, but warm and welcoming.


The most traditional performance is by French guitarist Philippe Mouratoglou on acoustic guitar, performed intimately, slowly, almost folkishly, but with lots of feeling and character. On the other end of the spectrum we find Japanese guitarist Otomo Yoshihide, who made this song one of his signature concert tracks, as was the case on the "Live At Shenzen" album. The improvisation is almost thirteen minutes of solo electric guitar, starting quietly, with lots of feedback and lots of silence and lots of noise. It is only well over four minutes when the actual theme becomes recognisable. Yoshide's approach is a real killer, performed with respect, yet equally unleashing all the composition's hidden sadness and distress, or making the inherent tension become really explicit. Another success is the version by the Zig Zag Trio, with Vernon Reid on guitar, Melvin Gibbs on bass and Will Calhoun on drums, performing a more 'fusion' version of the song, but then not, because Reid's approach to the guitar is all his own: bluesy, headstrong, raw, violent - in the Hendrix way - and less focused on pyrotechnics than on the power of his sound.

I can add the possibly hard to find version by a trio of guitarist Filip Bukršliev, saxophonist Ninoslav Spirovski and bassist Deni Omeragić, all three from Macedonia (North-Macedonia). Both guitar and sax are played with lots of reverb, giving a strong scenic resonance over the throbbing bass, resulting in a real psychedelic rendering of the tune.

The most avant version comes from the trio of Christian Munthe on electric guitar, Donovan von Martens on bass and Martin Öhman on drums. It takes some time before it's clear what they're playing - after about six minutes - and the same holds true for the remaining five minutes as they move back to a very angular and granular improvisation.


Take a listen to drummer Jeff Cosgove's trio with Scott Robinson on sax and Ken Filiano on bass.


Wojciech Pulcyn's album is a solo bass album, actually a tribute to the great Charlie Haden, the bassist of the original Ornette Coleman quartet.


The best is possibly by Bonjintan, with Akira Sakata on saxes, Giovanni Di Domenico on piano, Jim O'Rourke on guitar, and Tatsuhisa Yamamoto on drums, delivering a wild, intense, violent and heartfelt interpretation.

Core performances

The Ornette Coleman Trio's concert at Tivoli is re-issued last year, presenting a 12-minute long performance of Lonely Woman, but surely not the most memorable one. And Old And New Dreams' performance at Saalfelden from 1986 was released, with a great 16-minute rendering of the composition, with Paul Motian on drums (instead of Ed Blackwell).

Update list

Wojciech Jachna - Emanacje / Trumpet Solo Sessions (Multikulti Project, 2018)
Bukršliev, Omeragić, Spirovski ‎– Odron (PMGJazz, 2018)
Ornette Coleman Trio ‎– Live At The Tivoli '65 (Hi Hat, 2018)
Chris Pasin - Ornettiquette (Planet Arts, 2018)
Tessa Souter ‎– Picture In Black And White (Noa Records, 2018)
Paulie Shankwank / Zawinul Corpse ‎– Split K7 (Post-Materialization Music, 2018)
Ran Blake & Christine Correa ‎– Streaming (Red Piano Records, 2018)
Philippe Mouratoglou Trio ‎– Univers-Solitude (Vision Fugitive, 2018)
Lydian Sound Orchestra ‎– We Resist! (Parco Della Musica Records, 2018)
Zig Zag Power Trio ‎– Woodstock Sessions (Woodstock Sessions, 2018)
Christian Munthe, Donovan von Martens, Martin Öhman ‎– M (*For*sake Recordings, 2018) Nesesari Kakalulu ‎(Self, 2018)
Jeff Cosgrove, Scott Robinson, Ken Filiano ‎– Hunters & Scavengers (Grizzley Music, 2018) Daniele Cavallanti, Giovanni Maier ‎– Our Standards (Palomar, 2018)
Afrit Nebula ‎– Triality (FMR, 2018)

Old And New Dreams - Live in Saalfelden, 1986 (Condition West Recordings, 2017)
Wojciech Pulcyn ‎– Tribute To Charlie Haden (ForTune, 2017)
Bonjintan ‎– Bonjin Tan (Daphne, 2017) (Akira Sataka and giovanni di domenico)
Kirk Knuffke ‎– Cherryco (Steeplechase, 2017)
Otomo Yoshihide ‎–  Live in Shenzhen (Old Heaven Books, 2017)
Painting Jazz Duo ‎– Peace (Dodicilune, 2017)
Nonaka Goku & Ningen Kokuho ‎– @井川てしゃまんく音楽祭 (Bummy Records, 2017)
Wayne Tucker ‎– Wake Up and See The Sun (One Trick Dog Records, 2017)
Anyaa Arts Quartet ‎– Harmattan (VoxLox, 2017)
Jure Pukl & Matija Dedić ‎– Hybrid (Whirlwind Recordings,2017)

Jac Berrocal / Aki Onda / Dan Warburton - Un Jour Tu Verras (Smeraldina Rima, 2016)
Arrigo Cappelletti Andrea Massaria Quartetto ‎– Nuove Polifonie (TRJ Records, 2016)
Jacek Niedziela-Meira ‎– Bassville 2 (Tribute To Jazz History) (CelEsTis, 2014)


Alexander said...

I'm always interested in music from SE Europe, so I looked for the Bukršliev, Omeragić, Spirovski release and found that it's a free download on the record label's website:

Jasz said...

Dear Stef, it's great you appreciate "Emanacje" - it's one of my favourite 2018 albums! :)
I'd like to add one more great (12-string) guitar version:

Captain Hate said...

Brötzmann's 2015 Münster Bern solo disc ends with "The Very Heart of Things" which is really Lonely Woman.

Stef said...


Friccolodics said...

Dear Stef! Thanks a lot and again for a vertical analysis and presentation of one of the loveliest pieces of free jazz ever written. I have discovered many a treasure following your bloggy hints so it is only fair to hand one back.
Try Guitarist Joe Baiza (one of the most undersung players on the indie funk punk freejazz borderlines)with his version on The Mecolodiacs' album GLAMJAZZ (there is also an acoustic and Youtube-version from
a much later date about). Enjoy and keep the blog alive!

Ernst Grgo Nebhuth said...

Another version is on Mototeru Takagi's release "2001.07.06" from 2002.

Christian Munthe said...

Thanks for the mention of our version!

The album "M", also featuring our interpretations of compositions by Carla Bley and Annette Peacock, besides some freely improvised tracks, is available for free listening and download here: