1959 was an important year in the history of jazz music. Several albums were released which pushed boundaries and changed the course of Jazz History. Miles Davis released, “Kind of Blue” the album that ushered in modal Jazz and that is consistently praised by Jazz enthusiasts; Charles Mingus’ “Mingus Ah Um” pushed boundaries of technical proficiency and The Dave Brubeck Quartet released “Time Out” an album dedicated to the exploration of unusual time signatures. The track “Take Five” from this, went on to become a surprise hit and for many people is the first thing that comes to mind when you mention Jazz Music.

But another album was released in 1959 that changed Jazz forever. That year a relatively unknown saxophonist named Ornette Coleman recorded “The Shape of Jazz to Come” a prophetic and ambitiously titled album which caused a stir in Jazz circles. Ornette had been much derided amongst some groups of Jazz musicians at the time for his use of a plastic saxophone, and his supposedly “out of tune” playing; but Ornette had gathered a following of people whom appreciated what he was doing.

“The Shape of Jazz to come” is an exploration of group improvisation; less ambitious in scope than his later work “Free Jazz”, but ultimately a bold step forward into the Avant Garde. “The Shape of Jazz to come” has no chord structure; in fact instruments capable of playing chords were purposefully avoided. Each track begins with a thematic melody which is then followed by several minutes of group improvisation before finally returning to the theme. By removing chord structure, improvisations were able to flow freely and ideas can be heard flying thick and fast creating a far from standard Jazz album.

Side A
1. "Lonely Woman" – 5:02
2. "Eventually" – 4:22
3. “Peace”- 9:04
Side B
1. "Focus on Sanity" – 6:52
2. "Congeniality" – 6:48
3. "Chronology" – 6:03

From the first apprehensive cymbal hits of “Lonely Woman” to the feverish finale of “Chronology” “The Shape of Jazz to come” is an album that will continuously catch you off guard. While not as experimental as some of his later works, and while not as well known as some of the other albums spawned in 1959 it is certainly an exciting and wonderful album.
Good choice.

This is a terrible album for someone first getting into jazz to listen to, but after working your way through Coltrane's later period and some Eric Dolphy, this album is a real treat. I know several big jazz fans that can not stand free jazz and look down on it as being pointless, or needing no talent but Ornette's playing is a tidal wave force and will always be a favorite of mine.
Yes. This is a brilliant album. The highlight on the album for me is on Lonely Woman, during the motif. Ornette plays and it feels like he is about to lose control. As if he is forcing his sax as far as it will go musically. It is probably one of the most intense things I have ever heard. I can see why people don't like it though. It takes a bit to get used to, but once you do, it becomes a gem.
I've almost finished.