Lonely Woman (composition)

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"Lonely Woman"
Instrumental by Ornette Coleman
from the album The Shape of Jazz to Come
Released1959 (1959)
RecordedMay 22, 1959
LabelAtlantic (1317)
Composer(s)Ornette Coleman
Producer(s)Nesuhi Ertegun

"Lonely Woman" is a jazz composition by Ornette Coleman. Coleman's recording of it was the opening track on his 1959 Atlantic Records album The Shape of Jazz to Come. Alongside Coleman's alto saxophone, the recording featured Don Cherry on cornet, Charlie Haden on double bass and Billy Higgins on drums.


In an interview with Jacques Derrida, Coleman spoke of the origin of the composition:

Before becoming known as a musician, when I worked in a big department store, one day, during my lunch break, I came across a gallery where someone had painted a very rich white woman who had absolutely everything that you could desire in life, and she had the most solitary expression in the world. I had never been confronted with such solitude, and when I got back home, I wrote a piece that I called "Lonely Woman."[1]

Other versions[edit]

Haden and Cherry revisited the song on Old and New Dreams (ECM, 1979), Haden doing so again on Etudes (1987) and In Angel City (1988).

Pianist John Lewis first recorded the song in January 1962 with the Modern Jazz Quartet for their album of the same name which was one of the earliest recorded covers of a Coleman number.[2][3] Later that year, in July, Lewis recorded it again for his album European Encounter.[4]

Vocal versions, with lyrics written by Margo Guryan, have been recorded by Chris Connor (1962), Freda Payne (1964, on After the Lights Go Down Low and Much More!!!) and Carola Standertskjöld (1966).

Year Performer Album Source
1962 Modern Jazz Quartet Lonely Woman [2][3]
1965 Denny Zeitlin with Charlie Haden Shining Hour [5]
1968 Helen Merrill and Dick Katz A Shade of Difference
1969 Marzette Watts with Patty Waters The Marzette Watts Ensemble [6]
1971 Zurich International Festival All-Stars From Europe with Jazz
1974 Lester Bowie with Julius Hemphill Fast Last! [5]
1977 Hugh Hopper Hopper Tunity Box
1979 Old and New Dreams with Charlie Haden Old and New Dreams [5]
1982 Masayuki Takayanagi Lonely Woman discogs
1982 Billy Bang and Dennis Charles Bangception
1984 Jaki Byard Phantasies
1987 Charlie Haden with Paul Motian and Geri Allen Etudes
1987 Kronos Quartet White Man Sleeps
1987 Branford Marsalis with Kenny Kirkland Random Abstract [5]
1988 Charlie Haden In Angel City
1989 Charlie Haden The Montreal Tapes: with Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell
1990 John Zorn with Bill Frisell Naked City [5]
1992 8 Bold Souls Sideshow [7]
1992 Radka Toneff Live in Hamburg (recorded 1981) [8]
1995 The Denison/Kimball Trio Soul Machine
1998 J. D. Allen In Search Of [5]
2002 Greg Malcolm Homesick for Nowhere [9]
2005 Joshua Redman Momentum
2005 Ahmed Abdullah Tara's Song
2005 Sunny Murray Perles Noires Volume 1
2007 Basquiat Strings Basquiat Strings
2009 Miroslav Vitous Group w/ Michel Portal Remembering Weather Report [1]
2011 Archie Shepp and Joachim Kühn Woman
2011 Brad Mehldau and Kevin Hays Modern Music
2013 Benoît Delbecq and Fred Hersch Fun House


  1. ^ . Derrida Interviews Coleman Archived 2014-10-23 at the Wayback Machine accessed October 4, 2014
  2. ^ a b jazzdisco.org entry for Lonely Woman Archived 2018-03-14 at the Wayback Machine accessed March 14, 2018
  3. ^ a b Cook, S. Allmusic Review Archived 2019-09-12 at the Wayback Machine accessed June 6, 2012
  4. ^ jazzdisco.org entry for European Encounter Archived 2018-06-12 at the Wayback Machine accessed March 14, 2018
  5. ^ a b c d e f Gioia, Ted (2012). The Jazz Standards. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 239–240. ISBN 978-0-19-993739-4.
  6. ^ "Marzette Watts". Jazz Music Archives. Retrieved July 10, 2022.
  7. ^ "8 Bold Souls: Sideshow". Jazz Music Archives. Retrieved July 11, 2022.
  8. ^ "Radka Toneff: Live in Hamburg". Grappa.no. Retrieved 2021-05-03.
  9. ^ Theakston, Rob. "Homesick for Nowhere". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 25 April 2021. Retrieved 29 April 2020.