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Evidence and Authorities

The J-DISC staff has begun entering some Ornette Coleman session information, based on material I provided (from the Coleman discography Michael Cuscuna and I put together in the early eighties, as updated in notes I’ve made over the years). One of the sessions involved eight titles recorded live by a Paul Bley Quintet at the Hillcrest Club in Los Angeles in 1958. These were released on two LPs, Paul Bley - Coleman Classics, Vol. 1 (Improvising Artists IAI 37 38 52) and Paul Bley Live At The Hilcrest Club (Inner City IC1007). My note with that session indicated only that the second set of recordings was possibly from the same date.

In entering the information, the staff found a review at Allmusic by Michael G. Nastos with more detailed information. That review indicated that the music was from “a live two-night engagement in October of 1958” and suggested that the first four titles were from the first night and four from the second. The staff made two separate entries for these sessions and included the two-night engagement information.

I added a note to the sessions correcting that information. I started by citing an authoritative source (John Litweiler’s Ornette Coleman: A Harmolodic Life), in which Bley, Coleman and bassist Charlie Haden each remember the gig as lasting between one and two months. I added some direct research, quoting entries from three issues of Down Beat which together suggest the gig lasted six weeks (early October to mid November 1958). As for the date of the recordings, I indicated that I have seen nothing to confirm or disprove the idea that the music is from two successive dates. Since their initial release to my knowledge no specific dates have been provided; the titles could each be from any of the performances during the six weeks of the gig. (I don’t know if anyone has ever asked Bley, who recorded the music and produced one of the original releases).

There are a couple of points here which are I think relevant to how J-DISC should work:
1) Entries should (at least initially) include discrepant data. The discrepancies should be summarized in the comments field (citing sources).
2) Researchers can comment on the discrepancies, presumably providing detail that resolves the discrepancies. Citing an authority (like Litweiler in this case) is useful, and citing source information provided by that authority is better. Providing source information (like the contemporary reports from Down Beat) is very helpful.
3) Eventually we might be able to reach consensus on resolving the discrepancy, so the entry can be corrected. But J-DISC can preserve the discussion, so the research remains available if the erroneous information is repeated in the future.

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