- Personnel: Ornette Coleman (alto & tenor saxophones), Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone, flute, bass clarinet), Don Cherry (pocket trumpet, cornet), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Robert DiDomenica (flute), The Contemporary String Quartet (strings), Eddie Costa (vibraphone), Bill Evans (piano), Jim Hall (guitar), Charlie Haden, Scott LaFaro, Jimmy Garrison, Alvin Brehm, George Duvivier (acoustic bass), Billy Higgins, Ed Blackwell, Sticks Evans (drums).
- Producers: Neshui Ertegun (disc 1-5, all tracks; disc 6, track 1-6); Neshui Ertegun, John Lewis (disc 6, track 7-8).
- Compilation producer: Yves Beauvais.
- Recorded at Radio Recorders, Hollywood, California from May to October, 1959; Atlantic Recording Studios, New York City from July, 1960 to March, 1961; and A&R Studios, New York City in December, 1960. Includes liner notes by Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Robert Palmer and Yves Beauvais.
- Digitally remastered by Stephen Innocenzi (1993, Atlantic Studios, New York).
- All songs written by Ornette Coleman except "Embraceable You" (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin), "Abstraction" and "Variants On A Theme Of Thelonius Monk" (Gunther Schuller).
- BEAUTY IS A RARE THING was nominated for Best Album Notes in the 37th Annual Grammy Awards.
- Personnel: Jim Hall (guitar); Eric Dolphy (flute, bass clarinet, alto saxophone); Freddie Hubbard (trumpet); Bill Evans (piano); Mark Chapman (unknown instrument).
- Audio Remasterer: Stephen Innocenzi.
- Recording information: A&R Studios, New York, NY (01/31/1961); Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, NY (01/31/1961); Radio Recorders, Hollywood, CA (01/31/1961); A&R Studios, New York, NY (03/22/1961); Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, NY (03/22/1961); Radio Recorders, Hollywood, CA (03/22/1961); A&R Studios, New York, NY (05/22/1959); Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, NY (05/22/1959); Radio Recorders, Hollywood, CA (05/22/1959); A&R Studios, New York, NY (07/19/1960); Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, NY (07/19/1960); Radio Recorders, Hollywood, CA (07/19/1960); A&R Studios, New York, NY (08/02/1960); Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, NY (08/02/1960); Radio Recorders, Hollywood, CA (08/02/1960); A&R Studios, New York, NY (10/08/1959); Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, NY (10/08/1959); Radio Recorders, Hollywood, CA (10/08/1959); A&R Studios, New York, NY (12/19/1960); Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, NY (12/19/1960); Radio Recorders, Hollywood, CA (12/19/1960); A&R Studios, New York, NY (12/20/1960); Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, NY (12/20/1960); Radio Recorders, Hollywood, CA (12/20/1960); A&R Studios, New York, NY (12/21/1960); Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, NY (12/21/1960); Radio Recorders, Hollywood, CA (12/21/1960).
- Introduction bys: Don Cherry ; Ornette Coleman.
- Photographers: Robert Parent; Herb Snitzer; Ray Avery; William Claxton; Lee Freidlander; Jon Seivert.
- BEAUTY IS A RARE THING contains Ornette Coleman's entire surviving recorded output for the Atlantic label from 1959-1961 (a number of other sessions were recorded, but they were destroyed, along with countless other priceless Atlantic masters, in their infamous warehouse fire of the mid-1970s.) BEAUTY IS A RARE THING features over seven hours of music, six previously unreleased tracks, and contains a booklet of photos, a discography and contemporary commentaries by Ornette Coleman and a host of supporters and detractors.
- This epic 6-CD set chronicles the joy and controversy that distinguished alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman's coming out party on Atlantic Records. Coleman was a transplanted Texan, a jazzman steeped in the blues, who struggled throughout the '50s on the Los Angeles scene just to find people to play with--let alone to accept his very personal sense of pitch and form. A prodigious composer, Coleman had accumulated hundreds of tunes by the time he made his first two albums for Contemporary, and began recording for Atlantic in 1959 with THE SHAPE OF JAZZ TO COME.
- As a result, this music seems suspended in time and space between epochs: casting fond backwards glances at breakthroughs of bebop ("Chronology," "Congeniality," and "Blues Connotation"), even as it foretold a more intuitive style of expression in which soloists were not strictly bound to chord changes and metric time (the symphonic "Free," the melancholy title tune and the gonzo collective polyphony of his bluesy double quartet on "Free Jazz"). Still, it is phenomenal how focused is the ensemble playing, and how endlessly melodic are the themes and variations.
- From his classic quartets, through his third stream "classic" work with John Lewis and Gunther Schuller, the temper of the times surrounding Coleman's maiden voyage are beautifully preserved in the enclosed booklet. BEAUTY IS A RARE THING is a perfect introduction to Coleman and trumpeter Don Cherry's hollering, skittering style of vocalized phrasing, and the telepathic responses of bassist Charlie Haden, Scott LaFaro and Jimmy Garrison alone are worth the price of the package. Driven along by the free-floating accents of texturalist Billy Higgins or the rocking second line polyrhythms of Ed Blackwell, this is some of the hardest swinging, most joyous music in the history of jazz.
Vibe (12/93-1/94, p.162) - "...Ornette's alto sound is a raw streak of emotion--honest, direct, naked....on [BEAUTY IS A RARE THING], Ornette broke through to a lucid, poignant, and most important, celebratory musical statement..."
Musician (1/94, p.88) - "...This collection is a watershed of jazz history...for all of his innovations [Ornette] remains at heart a bluesman...there exists nothing before or since to match the sheer exultation of this, Ornette's great blush of youth...."
Village Voice (12/14/93, p.94) - "...Imperishable recordings...embodies a time and a place and an attitude, a unique way of looking at music and life....What a boon it is to have the Coleman Atlantics complete, correctly integrated, and beautifully remastered. No home should be without this music...."
Village Voice (3/1/94, p.5) - Ranked #4 in the Village Voice's list of the 10 Best Reissues Of 1993.
Stereo Review (3/94, p.100) - Performance: Epochal / Recording: Good - "...[Coleman] caught some of the day's most intrepid experimentalists by surprise, because instead of borrowing compositional structures from Europe as they did, he made regenerative use of an older jazz vocabulary of smeared notes and collective improvisation....if you claim to like jazz, you can't afford to be without it...."