Ornette Coleman / Pat Metheny Song X: 20th Anniversary Edition

This record represents the widest exposure Ornette Coleman’s harmolodic theory ever achieved. Widely praised on release in 1986, it was an oasis of frenzy in a sea of increasingly retro-centric jazz at the time. Ornette seemed to have kicked Metheny in the ass repeatedly, spurring him to new heights as a guitarist and a composer; Metheny’s work became much more ambitious after this release. Twenty years on, Metheny’s aim is to straighten out the mix — he notes that he was unhappy with the overall sound and digital master of the era. Charlie Haden’s and the low notes of the drum kits make for a less ear-shredding experience (in a good way) than the original. Now, you can practically feel the sweat flying off all players. Another surprise is the six bonus tracks that begin this new edition. It takes guts to start off a retrospective of a definitive album with tunes that never made the grade in the first place, but they work just fine as warm-ups to the serious get-downs, especially the loose-limbed "Police People.” But with the main event comes heavy hitting tracks like "Song X” and especially the 13-minute freak-out that is "Endangered Species.” Denardo Coleman and Jack DeJohnette are two of a kind throughout, even with the primitive syndrum notions Denardo deploys, which nonetheless complement Metheny’s equally hilarious guitar synth ideas. (You mean a guitar can sound like a telephone? Crazy!) It’s not all insanity — the happy blues of "Kathelin Grey” is a beautiful melody expressed perfectly by both leads. The new mixes, bonus tracks and overall greatness of this meeting should persuade fans of both to shell out for this again. (Nonesuch)