Skies of America

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Skies of America
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 1972
RecordedApril 17-20, 1972
GenreOrchestral jazz
Avant-garde jazz
20th century classical
LabelColumbia KC 31562
ProducerPaul Myers
Ornette Coleman chronology
Science Fiction
Skies of America
To Whom Who Keeps a Record
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4/5 stars[1]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide4/5 stars[2]

Skies of America is the 17th album by jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman, released on Columbia Records in 1972. It consists of one long composition by Coleman taking up both sides of the album, played by the London Symphony Orchestra and conducted by David Measham. Coleman himself only plays on a few segments, and there is no other jazz instrumentation.


Coleman had encountered third stream music in the 1950s, had played sessions for Gunther Schuller in 1960, and had composed two earlier orchestral works, Inventions of Symphonic Poems in 1967 and Sun Suite of San Francisco in 1968.[3] Immediately prior to this album, he had done arranging work for Alice Coltrane on her album Universal Consciousness. He had initially envisioned Skies as a concerto grosso for jazz combo and orchestra, but owing to contractual disputes with the musician's union in England, his band would not be allowed to record at all, and Coleman limited his own contribution to solos over the orchestra for select segments of the music.[4]


The album contains nearly all of the music that Coleman wrote for Skies of America, though several repeated motifs and two other segments were removed from the work in order to accommodate the limited album playing time. The 21 track titles were added by Coleman as an afterthought, Columbia executives hoping that the work might attract airplay via shorter lengths given promotion similar to that for singles.[5] Recording sessions took place at Abbey Road Studios in London from April 17 to 20, 1972.


The Allmusic review by Thom Jurek stated that "this is still dangerous and rewarding music".[1] The Penguin Guide to Jazz awards it three and a half stars, declaring the album "another grand mess, generously and boldly conceived but stifled by the grim playing of the LSO."[6] On May 2, 2000, the album was remastered and reissued for compact disc. The piece appeared in full continuity without the break for the album sides.

Track listing[edit]

Side one[edit]

1."Skies of America"2:49
2."Native Americans"1:10
3."The Good Life"1:33
4."Birthdays and Funerals"3:13
6."Sounds of Sculpture"1:20
7."Holiday for Heroes"1:10
8."All of My Life"3:08
10."The Soul Within Woman"0:47
11."The Artist in America"3:54

Side two[edit]

1."The New Anthem"0:31
2."Place in Space"2:44
3."Foreigner in A Free Land"1:19
4."Silver Screen"1:10
6."The Men Who Live in the White House"2:48
7."Love Life"4:34
8."The Military"0:32
9."Jam Session"0:39
10."Sunday in America"4:29



  1. ^ a b Jurek, T. Allmusic Review accessed November 30, 2011
  2. ^ Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 45. ISBN 0-394-72643-X.
  3. ^ Skies of America. Legacy Records CK 63568, liner notes.
  4. ^ Legacy 63568, liner notes.
  5. ^ Legacy 63568, liner notes.
  6. ^ The Penguin Guide to Jazz, Ninth Edition, ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0, p. 277.