«Dancing In Your Head(s)» is the first album of the acclaimed French Orchestre National de Jazz (ONJ) under the new artistic director, guitarist Frédéric Maurin, formerly the leader of the Ping Machine Ensemble, recorded live at the Strasbourg-Berlin Jazzdor Festival in June 2019. This album celebrates the music of Ornette Coleman and musicians in his galaxy as Eric Dolphy, Julius Hemphill, and Tim Berne and is titled after the debut album of Coleman’s «Prime Time band» (Horizon, 1977).
Maurin, and arranger Fred Pallem, wanted «Dancing In Your Head(s)» to reflect a kind of first love of jazz and to shed a new, festive, communicative, and within the reach of every listener, on Coleman’s freedom and lyricism. The new version of ONJ features Portuguese trumpeter Susana Silva Santos and guest, alto sax player Tim Berne (who participated in a much more radical reconstruction of Coleman’s music, John Zorn’s «Spy vs. Spy», Elektra, 1989). The groove-based program visits Coleman’s from different periods, from Coleman’s classic, acoustic quartet to the electric-funky sound of Prime Time.
The album begins with a short funky suite that ties «Feet Music» (with quotes from «Open to the Public»). «Jump Street» and «City Living», all radiate a well-crafted, rhythmic and joyful orchestral arrangement that canonizes and brings Coleman work to the jazz mainstream, but somehow takes off the edge of his complex harmolodic aesthetics. ONJ expands this vein with «Good Old Days» (with quotes of «Mob Job» and «Street Woman»).
ONJ and Pallem’s contemplative arrangement of Dolphy’s «Something Sweet, Something Tender», with trombonist Daniel Zimmerman as a soloist, dares to explore more fragile and tender colors in this piece. The program reaches its climax when Berne joins ONJ to an inspired meditation of Hemphill’s classic «Dogon A.D», playing with a totally charismatic, uncompromising voice and in a sound, phrasing, and dynamics of his own, with additional, equally-impressive solos of trumpeter Silva. Berne, as the only soloist, shines again with his passionate and lyrical playing through the dense, overburdened arrangement of the often-covered «Lonely Woman».
ONJ concludes this program with an exceptional, reserved arrangement of «Kathelin Gray» and a macho-like, fusion-like version of «Theme from a Symphony» (wth quotes from «Macho Woman»).
Jean-Michel Couchet (as,ss), Anna-Lena Schnabel (as, fl), Julien Soro (ts), Fabien Debellfontaine (ts, fl, piccolo), Morgane Carnet (bs), Fabien Norbert (tp, flh), Susana Santos Silva (tp), Mathilde Fèvre (frh), Daniel Zimmerman (tb), Judith Wekstein (btb), Pierre Durand (g), Frédéric Murin (eleg, dir), Bruno Ruder (keys), Sylvain Daniel (b), Rafaël Koerner (dr), Tim Berne (as), Fred Pallem (orchestration)