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Ornette Coleman: Beauty is a Rare Thing/The Complete Atlantic Recordings (Rhino/Atlantic Jazz Gallery R2 71410, CD only). What scared people about Ornette Coleman's music, 30-odd years ago, was its very naturalness. At a time when jazz was obsessed with sophistication, Coleman's preference for non-technical qualities seemed heretical. He was just about the only jazzman still prepared to acknowledge that music is a non-verbal art: 'Chords are just names for sounds, which really need no names at all, as names are sometimes confusing,' he said in 1960. That terrified the technocrats, who even saw a threat in his use of a white plastic alto saxophone and in his partner Don Cherry's preference for a funny little pocket trumpet. But Coleman stuck it out, let the insults bounce off him and saved jazz from a rapid surrender to the atrophy that had afflicted European 'straight' music. Listen now to these six CDs, containing the seven hours of music that survive from sessions held between May 1959 and March 1961, and the controversy seems absurd. Any contemporary listener with reasonably eclectic tastes will find within Coleman's Atlantic quartets featuring Charlie Haden, Scott La Faro or Jimmy Garrison on bass and Ed Blackwell or Billy Higgins at the drums an entirely logical extension of bebop and the blues. As for 'Free Jazz', the 37-minute double-quartet piece which was greeted with howls of outrage in 1961, today its rhythms, melodies and colours seem as familiar as those of the Jackson Pollock drip-painting on its original sleeve. But although this music may have lost its ability to shock, all of it and not just the six previously unissued pieces is as fresh and vigorous as if it were being created now. The careful packaging and annotation, too, make this an exemplary reissue, a cornerstone of jazz history at about pounds 70. Richard Williams

Pink Floyd: The Division Bell (EMI, CD/LP/tape). In the era of Bat Out of Hell II Back into Hell and Tubular Bells II, Pink Floyd have has gone for the softest option. The Division Bell is a long, dull rehash of familiar sounds and Floydian devices from the mid-Seventies; it sounds like it was made purely in order to have something to tour. It's a pity as, thanks to the likes of The Orb, Pink Floyd's music is in the spotlight again. But what a barren, humourless landscape this is and what an own-up to write yet another song, 'Poles Apart', about Syd Barrett. Is this really the best they could do? David Cavanagh

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