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"The title Ornette at 12 is something of a misnomer. Although Ornette is Denardo’s middle name, why wasn’t the album called Denardo at 12, his age at the time of the concert? Is there a hidden meaning related to Ornette’s own childhood? According to John Litweiler’s book A Harmolodic Life, he was either 13 or 14 when he received his ﬁrst horn. If the year 1956 is meant to represent a signiﬁcant event in Ornette’s musical life, it does mark his meeting with Don Cherry and Billy Higgins, and their ﬁrst rehearsals and gigs together in Los Angeles. But neither were part of this concert. The title remains a mystery.
Nevertheless, the music from these two concerts, separated by seven months, is remarkable. Without subjecting his drumming to conventional jazz standards – which in this music is beside the point – Denardo’s contribution is altogether appropriate and often compelling, revealing alert dynamics, altered textures, sensitive and energetic support. Redman’s blues-infused commentaries on Ornette’s themes are a dramaticcontrast to Ornette’s characteristic cry and circuitous, albeit lyrical, logic. The compositions – yearning ballad or soaring pyrotechnics – are memorable. As a bonus encore, ezz-thetics has attached the music from the little-known 45-rpm single that Ornette released in 1969 to celebrate the ﬁrst moon landing. Unique to “Man on the Moon” is the electronic component by Emmanuel Ghent, a pathbreaking psychologist and early practitioner of computer-generated electronic music, who for a time lived in the same building as Ornette and according to his son jammed informally with him frequently.
Given the three-year gap between Ornette’s studio recordings during this period, we are fortunate to have these documents – music that sounds like no other." - Art Lange