Title: Lonely Woman
Artist: Ornette Coleman


Composer: Coleman/Guryan
Publisher: MJQ Music
CD: The Shape of Jazz to Come
Label: Atlantic
(c) and (p) 1987 Atlantic Records, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Recording Date: May 22, 1959; 9:30 pm - 3:30 am
Personnel: Ornette Coleman, alto sax; Don Cherry, cornet; Charlie Haden, bass; Billy Higgins, drums
Amazon order now
  Amazon order now

Title: Lonely Woman
Artist: Ornette Coleman
Type of Tune: free jazz (avant-garde)
Tempo: 322 BPM (beats per minute)
Key: D minor (tonal center)
Form: free (loosely AABA)
Devices: motivic development; timbral and rhythmic organization; ensemble balance
Scales: various minor scales; chromatic
Recurring Patterns: while a steady tempo is maintained by the bass and drums, the written theme (head) “floats” above, not “in sync” nor swinging with the rhythm section as in earlier styles
Developmental Techniques: solos are not harmonically directed; solos develop via rhythmic, melodic, timbral, and expressive nuance

Historical Significance:

Lonely Woman was one of the first free jazz compositions (from one of the first free jazz albums, i.e., The Shape of Jazz to Come) to depict jazz’s new found freedom from preset chord progressions. This particular track epitomizes the playing of Ornette Coleman particularly and the Free Jazz movement in general.

General Comments:

As in bebop, a composed theme (head) introduces and ends Lonely Woman, framing the improvised solos. Unlike bebop, the improvisation does not follow a preset chord progression (hence no need for piano); phrase lengths are stretched at will. Free jazz generally enjoys a wider variation in pitch and tone quality than bebop.