Of Human Feelings is a studio album by American jazz saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman. He recorded the album on April 25, 1979, at CBS Studios in New York City with his band Prime Time, which featured guitarists Charlie Ellerbee and Bern Nix, bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma, and drummers Calvin Weston and Coleman's son Denardo. It followed Coleman's failed attempt to record a direct-to-disc session earlier in March 1979.
Of Human Feelings explores jazz-funk music and continues Coleman's harmolodic approach to improvisation with Prime Time, whom he first introduced on his 1975 album Dancing in Your Head. He drew on rhythm and blues influences from early in his career for Of Human Feelings, which had shorter and more distinct compositions than Dancing in Your Head. Coleman also applied free jazz principles from his music during the 1960s to elements of funk.
Following a change in management, Coleman signed with Island Records, and Of Human Feelings was released in 1982 by its subsidiary label Antilles Records. It was well received by critics, who praised the album's expressive music and Coleman's harmolodic approach. However, Of Human Feelings made no commercial impact and subsequently went out of print. After a dispute with his managers over the album's royalties, Coleman enlisted his son Denardo as manager, which inspired him to perform live again in public during the 1980s.
All compositions by Ornette Coleman
"Sleep Talk" – 3:34
"Jump Street" – 4:24
"Him and Her" – 4:20
"Air Ship" – 6:11
"What Is the Name of That Song?" – 3:58
"Job Mob" – 4:57
"Love Words" – 2:54
"Times Square" – 6:03
Denardo Coleman – drums
Ornette Coleman – alto saxophone, production
Charlie Ellerbee – guitar
Bern Nix – guitar
Jamaaladeen Tacuma – bass guitar
Calvin Weston – drums
Coleman, like Miles Davis before him, took to playing with electrified instruments. Albums like Virgin Beauty and Of Human Feelings used rock and funk rhythms, sometimes called free funk. On the face of it, this could seem to be an adoption of the jazz fusion mode fashionable at the time, but Ornette's first record with the group, which later became known as Prime Time (the 1976 Dancing in Your Head), was sufficiently different to have considerable shock value. Electric guitars were prominent, but the music was, at heart, rather similar to his earlier work. These performances have the same angular melodies and simultaneous group improvisations – what Joe Zawinul referred to as "nobody solos, everybody solos" and what Coleman calls harmolodics – and although the nature of the pulse has altered, Coleman's own rhythmic approach has not.
Some critics have suggested Coleman's frequent use of the vaguely defined term harmolodics is a musical MacGuffin: a red herring of sorts designed to occupy critics overly focused on Coleman's sometimes unorthodox compositional style.
Jerry Garcia played guitar on three tracks from Coleman's Virgin Beauty (1988): "Three Wishes," "Singing In The Shower," and "Desert Players." Coleman joined the Grateful Dead on stage twice in 1993 playing the band's "The Other One," "Wharf Rat," "Stella Blue," and covering Bobby Bland's "Turn On Your Lovelight," among others. Another unexpected association was with guitarist Pat Metheny, with whom Coleman recorded Song X (1985); though released under Metheny's name, Coleman was essentially co-leader (contributing all the compositions).