Beauty is a Rare Thing: The Complete Atlantic Recordings Ornette Coleman Atlantic The great alto sax player Ornette Coleman has never been one to let distractions get in the way of his vision. And that vision, for the Coleman faithful, has long been a thing of rare beauty. A case in point was when the American - then 78 years old - performed at the Cultural Centre in 2008 as part of the Hong Kong Arts Festival. As he blazed away on stage, a few in the crowd got up and left mid-set while others shifted around in their seats noisily as the show played out to its end. Then there were the times, as legend has it, that a much younger Coleman had to fend off the jazz purists and their cat-calls (and worse) while he was first revealing his music to the world. That's the thing about Coleman - and it always has been: the man's music, this wild, often manic desire to 'fill in the cracks', was never played out to please everyone in the room. But more than enough have been converted over the decades and, anyhow, there's always been the lingering suspicion that the man doesn't really care much. It's the music that's the thing, after all. This fabulous collection, from what would prove to be Coleman's most productive and inspired period, came about as a result of the rare freedom he was given by the Atlantic label. There're the six albums he produced during that period all packaged up, among them the classics Change of the Century, Ornette! and Free Jazz, the latter lending its name to a movement that held Coleman as its champion. But it was a crown he has often said never really rested on his head. Backed at various times by the likes of Don Cherry on trumpet and fellow genius Charlie Haden on bass, Coleman took the blues that shaped his background as the base for his adventures, then he listened to what was going on in the jazz world - and turned the whole lot upside down. To label the sound avant-garde does Coleman's work a disservice, even though that phrase has been stuck on to many who cite the man as an inspiration, from freak rocker Frank Zappa to fellow jazzman Joe Zawinul. The worry is that it makes people form an opinion before the music reaches their ears. Instead, for those wanting to lend their ears to the pure beauty that has always been at the heart of Coleman's work, tune in to his rendition of that Gershwin standard Embraceable You - originally recorded as part of Coleman's This is Our Music set. Coleman takes a pure melody and draws every last breath out of it, tuning it along the way into something altogether wild. Beauty is, of course, in the eyes (and ears) of the beholder. And never is that more true than in the music that Ornette Coleman has been producing for more than half a century.