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Ornette Coleman

Ornette Coleman

Overview
Ornette Coleman is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 saxophon
Saxophone
The saxophone is a conical-bore transposing musical instrument that is a member of the woodwind family. Saxophones are usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet. The saxophone was invented by the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax in 1846...

ist, violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

ist, trumpet
Trumpet
The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air...

er and composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

. He was one of the major innovators of the free jazz
Free jazz
Free jazz is an approach to jazz music that was first developed in the 1950s and 1960s. Though the music produced by free jazz pioneers varied widely, the common feature was a dissatisfaction with the limitations of bebop, hard bop, and modal jazz, which had developed in the 1940s and 1950s...

 movement of the 1960s.

Coleman's timbre
Timbre
In music, timbre is the quality of a musical note or sound or tone that distinguishes different types of sound production, such as voices and musical instruments, such as string instruments, wind instruments, and percussion instruments. The physical characteristics of sound that determine the...

 is easily recognized: his keening, crying sound draws heavily on blues music. His album Sound Grammar
Sound Grammar
Sound Grammar is an album by jazz saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman, recorded live in Ludwigshafen, Germany, on 14 October 2005. The album was produced by Ornette Coleman and Michaela Deiss, and released on Coleman's new Sound Grammar label. It is his first new album in almost a decade,...

received the 2007 Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

 for music.

Coleman was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, where he began performing R&B
Rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated to R&B, is a genre of popular African American music that originated in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a...

 and bebop
Bebop
Bebop differed drastically from the straightforward compositions of the swing era, and was instead characterized by fast tempos, asymmetrical phrasing, intricate melodies, and rhythm sections that expanded on their role as tempo-keepers...

 initially on tenor saxophone
Saxophone
The saxophone is a conical-bore transposing musical instrument that is a member of the woodwind family. Saxophones are usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet. The saxophone was invented by the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax in 1846...

.
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Encyclopedia
Ornette Coleman is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 saxophon
Saxophone
The saxophone is a conical-bore transposing musical instrument that is a member of the woodwind family. Saxophones are usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet. The saxophone was invented by the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax in 1846...

ist, violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

ist, trumpet
Trumpet
The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air...

er and composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

. He was one of the major innovators of the free jazz
Free jazz
Free jazz is an approach to jazz music that was first developed in the 1950s and 1960s. Though the music produced by free jazz pioneers varied widely, the common feature was a dissatisfaction with the limitations of bebop, hard bop, and modal jazz, which had developed in the 1940s and 1950s...

 movement of the 1960s.

Coleman's timbre
Timbre
In music, timbre is the quality of a musical note or sound or tone that distinguishes different types of sound production, such as voices and musical instruments, such as string instruments, wind instruments, and percussion instruments. The physical characteristics of sound that determine the...

 is easily recognized: his keening, crying sound draws heavily on blues music. His album Sound Grammar
Sound Grammar
Sound Grammar is an album by jazz saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman, recorded live in Ludwigshafen, Germany, on 14 October 2005. The album was produced by Ornette Coleman and Michaela Deiss, and released on Coleman's new Sound Grammar label. It is his first new album in almost a decade,...

received the 2007 Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

 for music.

Early life


Coleman was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, where he began performing R&B
Rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated to R&B, is a genre of popular African American music that originated in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a...

 and bebop
Bebop
Bebop differed drastically from the straightforward compositions of the swing era, and was instead characterized by fast tempos, asymmetrical phrasing, intricate melodies, and rhythm sections that expanded on their role as tempo-keepers...

 initially on tenor saxophone
Saxophone
The saxophone is a conical-bore transposing musical instrument that is a member of the woodwind family. Saxophones are usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet. The saxophone was invented by the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax in 1846...

. Seeking a way to work his way out of his home town, he took a job in 1949 with a Silas Green from New Orleans
Silas Green from New Orleans
Silas Green from New Orleans was an African American owned and run variety tent show, which in various forms toured the southern states between about 1904 and 1957....

 traveling show and then with touring rhythm and blues shows. After a show in Baton Rouge, he was assaulted and his saxophone was destroyed.

He switched to alto, which has remained his primary instrument
Musical instrument
A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the...

, first playing it in New Orleans after the Baton Rouge incident. He then joined the band of Pee Wee Crayton
Pee Wee Crayton
Connie Curtis Crayton , known as Pee Wee Crayton, was an American R&B and blues guitarist and singer.-Career:...

 and travelled with them to Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

. He worked at various jobs, including as an elevator
Elevator
An elevator is a type of vertical transport equipment that efficiently moves people or goods between floors of a building, vessel or other structures...

 operator, while still pursuing his musical career.

Even from the beginning of Coleman's career, his music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

 and playing were in many ways unorthodox. His approach to harmony
Harmony
In music, harmony is the use of simultaneous pitches , or chords. The study of harmony involves chords and their construction and chord progressions and the principles of connection that govern them. Harmony is often said to refer to the "vertical" aspect of music, as distinguished from melodic...

 and chord progression
Chord progression
A chord progression is a series of musical chords, or chord changes that "aims for a definite goal" of establishing a tonality founded on a key, root or tonic chord. In other words, the succession of root relationships...

 was far less rigid than that of bebop
Bebop
Bebop differed drastically from the straightforward compositions of the swing era, and was instead characterized by fast tempos, asymmetrical phrasing, intricate melodies, and rhythm sections that expanded on their role as tempo-keepers...

 performers; he was increasingly interested in playing what he heard rather than fitting it into predetermined chorus-structures and harmonies. His raw, highly vocalized sound and penchant for playing "in the cracks" of the scale led many Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

 jazz musicians to regard Coleman's playing as out-of-tune. He sometimes had difficulty finding like-minded musicians with whom to perform. Nevertheless, pianist Paul Bley
Paul Bley
Paul Bley, CM is a pianist known for his contributions to the free jazz movement of the 1960s as well as his innovations and influence on trio playing.-Biography:...

 was an early supporter and musical collaborator.

In 1958, Coleman led his first recording session for Contemporary, Something Else!!!!: The Music of Ornette Coleman
Something Else!!!!
Something Else!!!! is the 1958 debut album by jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman. According to All Music, the album "shook up the jazz world", revitalizing the union of blues and jazz and restoring "blues to their 'classic' beginnings in African music"...

. The session also featured trumpet
Trumpet
The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air...

er Don Cherry
Don Cherry (jazz)
Donald Eugene Cherry was an innovative African-American jazz cornetist whose career began with a long association with saxophonist Ornette Coleman. He went on to live in many parts of the world and work with a wide variety of musicians.-Biography:Cherry was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and...

, drummer
Drummer
A drummer is a musician who is capable of playing drums, which includes but is not limited to a drum kit and accessory based hardware which includes an assortment of pedals and standing support mechanisms, marching percussion and/or any musical instrument that is struck within the context of a...

 Billy Higgins
Billy Higgins
Billy Higgins was an American jazz drummer. He played mainly free jazz and hard bop.Higgins was born in Los Angeles, California. Higgins played on Ornette Coleman's first records, beginning in 1958...

, bassist Don Payne and Walter Norris
Walter Norris
Walter Norris was an American pianist and composer. -Early life & career:Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, on December 27, 1931, Norris first studied piano at home with his mother, then with John Summers, a local church organist...

 on piano
Piano
The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

.

The Shape of Jazz to Come


Coleman was very busy in 1959. His last release on Contemporary was Tomorrow Is the Question!
Tomorrow Is the Question!
__notoc__Tomorrow Is the Question!, subtitled The New Music of Ornette Coleman, is the second album by American jazz musician Ornette Coleman, originally released in 1959 by the Contemporary label...

, a quartet album, with Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne , born Sheldon Manne in New York City, was an American jazz drummer. Most frequently associated with West Coast jazz, he was known for his versatility and also played in a number of other styles, including Dixieland, swing, bebop, avant-garde jazz and fusion, as well as contributing...

 on drums, and excluding the piano, which he would not use again until the 1990s. Next Coleman brought double bassist Charlie Haden
Charlie Haden
Charles Edward Haden is an American jazz musician. He is a double bassist, probably best known for his long association with saxophonist Ornette Coleman...

 – one of a handful of his most important collaborators – into a regular group with Haden, Cherry, and Higgins. (All four had played with Paul Bley the previous year.) He signed a multi-album contract with Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records is an American record label best known for its many recordings of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and jazz...

 who released The Shape of Jazz to Come
The Shape of Jazz to Come
The Shape of Jazz to Come is an influential album by Ornette Coleman. It was his debut album for Atlantic Records who released it in late 1959....

in 1959. It was, according to critic Steve Huey, "a watershed event in the genesis of avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 jazz, profoundly steering its future course and throwing down a gauntlet that some still haven't come to grips with." While definitely – if somewhat loosely – blues
Blues
Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre that originated in African-American communities of primarily the "Deep South" of the United States at the end of the 19th century from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads...

-based and often quite melodic, the album's compositions were considered at that time harmonically unusual and unstructured. Some musicians and critics saw Coleman as an iconoclast; others, including conductor Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990) was an American conductor, composer, author, music lecturer and pianist. He was among the first conductors born and educated in the United States of America to receive worldwide acclaim...

 and composer Virgil Thomson
Virgil Thomson
Virgil Thomson was an American composer and critic. He was instrumental in the development of the "American Sound" in classical music...

 regarded him as a genius and an innovator.

Coleman's quartet received a lengthy – and sometimes controversial – engagement at New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

's famed Five Spot
Five Spot
The Five Spot Café was a jazz club located at 5 Cooper Square in the Bowery neighbourhood of New York City.-History:In 1937, Salvatore Termini purchased what was then known as the Bowery Café, a working-class bar located under the Third Avenue El. In 1946, two of Termini's sons, Joe and Ignatze ...

 jazz club. Such notable figures as the Modern Jazz Quartet
Modern Jazz Quartet
The Modern Jazz Quartet was established in 1952 by Milt Jackson , John Lewis , Percy Heath , and Kenny Clarke . Connie Kay replaced Clarke in 1955...

, Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990) was an American conductor, composer, author, music lecturer and pianist. He was among the first conductors born and educated in the United States of America to receive worldwide acclaim...

 and Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton
Lionel Leo Hampton was an American jazz vibraphonist, pianist, percussionist, bandleader and actor. Like Red Norvo, he was one of the first jazz vibraphone players. Hampton ranks among the great names in jazz history, having worked with a who's who of jazz musicians, from Benny Goodman and Buddy...

 were favorably impressed, and offered encouragement. (Hampton was so impressed he reportedly asked to perform with the quartet; Bernstein later helped Haden obtain a composition grant from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation was founded in 1925 by Mr. and Mrs. Simon Guggenheim in memory of their son, who died April 26, 1922...

.) Opinion was, however, divided. Trumpeter Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Dewey Davis III was an American jazz musician, trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Miles Davis was, with his musical groups, at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music, including bebop, cool jazz,...

 famously declared Coleman was "all screwed up inside" (although this comment was later recanted) and Roy Eldridge
Roy Eldridge
Roy David Eldridge , nicknamed "Little Jazz" was an American jazz trumpet player. His sophisticated use of harmony, including the use of tritone substitutions, his virtuosic solos and his strong influence on Dizzy Gillespie mark him as one of the most exciting musicians of the swing era and a...

 stated, "I'd listened to him all kinds of ways. I listened to him high and I listened to him cold sober. I even played with him. I think he's jiving baby."

On the Atlantic recordings, Scott LaFaro
Scott LaFaro
Rocco Scott LaFaro was an influential jazz bassist, perhaps best known for his work with the Bill Evans Trio.-Biography:...

 sometimes replaces Charlie Haden
Charlie Haden
Charles Edward Haden is an American jazz musician. He is a double bassist, probably best known for his long association with saxophonist Ornette Coleman...

 on double bass
Double bass
The double bass, also called the string bass, upright bass, standup bass or contrabass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra, with strings usually tuned to E1, A1, D2 and G2...

 and either Billy Higgins
Billy Higgins
Billy Higgins was an American jazz drummer. He played mainly free jazz and hard bop.Higgins was born in Los Angeles, California. Higgins played on Ornette Coleman's first records, beginning in 1958...

 or Ed Blackwell
Ed Blackwell
Ed Blackwell was an American jazz drummer born in New Orleans, Louisiana, known for his extensive work with Ornette Coleman....

 features on drums
Drum kit
A drum kit is a collection of drums, cymbals and often other percussion instruments, such as cowbells, wood blocks, triangles, chimes, or tambourines, arranged for convenient playing by a single person ....

. These recordings are collected in a boxed set
Boxed set
A box set is a compilation of various musical recordings, films, television programs, or other collection of related items that are contained in a box.-Music box sets:...

, Beauty Is a Rare Thing.

Part of the uniqueness of Coleman's early sound came from his use of a plastic saxophone. He had first bought a plastic horn in Los Angeles in 1954 because he was unable to afford a metal saxophone, though he didn't like the sound of the plastic instrument at first. Coleman later claimed that it sounded drier, without the pinging sound of metal. In more recent years, he has played a metal saxophone.

Free Jazz


In 1960, Coleman recorded Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation
Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation
Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation is the sixth album by jazz saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman, recorded in 1960. Its title established the name of the then-nascent free jazz movement...

, which featured a double quartet, including Cherry and Freddie Hubbard
Freddie Hubbard
Frederick Dewayne "Freddie" Hubbard was an American jazz trumpeter. He was known primarily for playing in the bebop, hard bop and post bop styles from the early 1960s and on...

 on trumpet
Trumpet
The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air...

, Eric Dolphy
Eric Dolphy
Eric Allan Dolphy was an American jazz alto saxophonist, flutist, and bass clarinetist. On a few occasions he also played the clarinet and baritone saxophone. Dolphy was one of several multi-instrumentalists to gain prominence in the 1960s...

 on bass clarinet
Bass clarinet
The bass clarinet is a musical instrument of the clarinet family. Like the more common soprano B clarinet, it is usually pitched in B , but it plays notes an octave below the soprano B clarinet...

, Haden and LaFaro on bass, and both Higgins and Blackwell on drums. The record was recorded in stereo
Stereophonic sound
The term Stereophonic, commonly called stereo, sound refers to any method of sound reproduction in which an attempt is made to create an illusion of directionality and audible perspective...

, with a reed/brass
Brass instrument
A brass instrument is a musical instrument whose sound is produced by sympathetic vibration of air in a tubular resonator in sympathy with the vibration of the player's lips...

/bass
Double bass
The double bass, also called the string bass, upright bass, standup bass or contrabass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra, with strings usually tuned to E1, A1, D2 and G2...

/drums
Drum kit
A drum kit is a collection of drums, cymbals and often other percussion instruments, such as cowbells, wood blocks, triangles, chimes, or tambourines, arranged for convenient playing by a single person ....

 quartet isolated in each stereo channel. Free Jazz was, at nearly 40 minutes, the lengthiest recorded continuous jazz performance to date, and was instantly one of Coleman's most controversial albums. The music features a regular but complex pulse, one drummer playing "straight" while the other played double-time; the thematic material is a series of brief, dissonant fanfares. As is conventional in jazz, there are a series of solo features for each member of the band, but the other soloists are free to chime in as they wish, producing some extraordinary passages of collective improvisation by the full octet
Octet
-Music:* Octet , ensemble consisting of eight instruments or voices, or composition written for such an ensemble* Octet , 1793 composition by Ludwig van Beethoven* Octet , 1825 composition by Felix Mendelssohn...

.

Coleman intended "Free Jazz" simply to be the album title, but his growing reputation placed him at the forefront of jazz innovation, and free jazz
Free jazz
Free jazz is an approach to jazz music that was first developed in the 1950s and 1960s. Though the music produced by free jazz pioneers varied widely, the common feature was a dissatisfaction with the limitations of bebop, hard bop, and modal jazz, which had developed in the 1940s and 1950s...

 was soon considered a new genre, though Coleman has expressed discomfort with the term. Among the reasons Coleman may not have entirely approved of the term 'free jazz
Free jazz
Free jazz is an approach to jazz music that was first developed in the 1950s and 1960s. Though the music produced by free jazz pioneers varied widely, the common feature was a dissatisfaction with the limitations of bebop, hard bop, and modal jazz, which had developed in the 1940s and 1950s...

' is that his music contains a considerable amount of composition
Musical composition
Musical composition can refer to an original piece of music, the structure of a musical piece, or the process of creating a new piece of music. People who practice composition are called composers.- Musical compositions :...

. His melodic
Melody
A melody , also tune, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones which is perceived as a single entity...

 material, although skeletal, strongly recalls the melodies that Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charles Parker, Jr. , famously called Bird or Yardbird, was an American jazz saxophonist and composer....

 wrote over standard
Jazz standard
Jazz standards are musical compositions which are an important part of the musical repertoire of jazz musicians, in that they are widely known, performed, and recorded by jazz musicians, and widely known by listeners. There is no definitive list of jazz standards, and the list of songs deemed to be...

 harmonies, and in general the music is closer to the bebop
Bebop
Bebop differed drastically from the straightforward compositions of the swing era, and was instead characterized by fast tempos, asymmetrical phrasing, intricate melodies, and rhythm sections that expanded on their role as tempo-keepers...

 that came before it than is sometimes popularly imagined. (Several early tunes of his, for instance, are clearly based on favorite bop chord changes like "Out of Nowhere
Out of Nowhere (Johnny Green song)
"Out of Nowhere" is a popular song composed by Johnny Green with lyrics by Edward Heyman. It was first recorded by Bing Crosby in 1931 and became his first number one hit as a solo artist...

" and "I Got Rhythm
I Got Rhythm
"I Got Rhythm" is a song composed by George Gershwin with lyrics by Ira Gershwin and published in 1930, which became a jazz standard. Its chord progression, known as the "rhythm changes", is the foundation for many other popular jazz tunes such as Charlie Parker's and Dizzy Gillespie's Bebop...

".) Coleman very rarely played standards, concentrating on his own compositions, of which there seems to be an endless flow. There are exceptions, though, including a classic reading (virtually a recomposition) of "Embraceable You
Embraceable You
"Embraceable You" is a popular song, with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin. The song was originally written in 1928 for an unpublished operetta named East is West. It was eventually published in 1930 and included in the Broadway musical Girl Crazy. where it was performed by...

" for Atlantic, and an improvisation on Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Sphere Monk was an American jazz pianist and composer considered "one of the giants of American music". Monk had a unique improvisational style and made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire, including "Epistrophy", "'Round Midnight", "Blue Monk", "Straight, No Chaser"...

's "Criss-Cross" recorded with Gunther Schuller
Gunther Schuller
Gunther Schuller is an American composer, conductor, horn player, author, historian, and jazz musician.- Biography and works :...

.

1960s



After the Atlantic period and into the early part of the 1970s, Coleman's music became more angular and engaged fully with the jazz avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 which had developed in part around Coleman's innovations.

His quartet dissolved, and Coleman formed a new trio with David Izenzon
David Izenzon
David Izenzon was an American jazz double bassist.Izenzon began playing double bass at age twenty-four. He played locally in his hometown of Pittsburgh before moving to New York City in 1961...

 on bass, and Charles Moffett
Charles Moffett
Charles Moffett was a free jazz drummer.Moffett began his musical career as a trumpeter before switching to drums. He is probably best known for his part in Ornette Coleman's trio with David Izenzon in the 1960s. He also appeared on other important albums of that period, such as Archie Shepp's...

 on drums. Coleman began to extend the sound-range of his music, introducing accompanying string players (though far from the territory of Charlie Parker with Strings
Charlie Parker with Strings
Charlie Parker with Strings is a compilation album by jazz musician Charlie Parker, released by Verve Records in January 1995. It is based on recording sessions originally issued as two albums released in 1950 on Mercury Records. The sessions place Parker in the context of a small classical string...

) and playing trumpet
Trumpet
The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air...

 and violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

 (which he played left-handed) himself. He initially had little conventional technique
Musical technique
Musical technique is the ability of instrumental and vocal musicians to exert optimal control of the their instrument or vocal cords in order to produce the precise musical effects they desire. Improving one's technique generally entails practicing exercises that improve one's muscular sensitivity...

 and used the instruments to make large, unrestrained gestures. His friendship with Albert Ayler
Albert Ayler
Albert Ayler was an American avant-garde jazz saxophonist, singer and composer.Ayler was among the most primal of the free jazz musicians of the 1960s; critic John Litweiler wrote that "never before or since has there been such naked aggression in jazz" He possessed a deep blistering tone—achieved...

 influenced his development on trumpet and violin. Haden would later sometimes join this trio to form a two-bass quartet.

Between 1965 and 1967 Coleman signed with Blue Note Records
Blue Note Records
Blue Note Records is a jazz record label, established in 1939 by Alfred Lion and Max Margulis. Francis Wolff became involved shortly afterwards. It derives its name from the characteristic "blue notes" of jazz and the blues. At the end of the 1950s, and in the early 1960s, Blue Note headquarters...

 and released a number of recordings starting with the influential recordings of the trio At the Golden Circle Stockholm
At the Golden Circle Stockholm
At the Golden Circle Stockholm is a two-volume album by the Ornette Coleman Trio, documenting concerts on the nights of December 3 and 4, 1965, in the Gyllene Cirkeln club in Stockholm. It marked the beginning of Coleman's contract with Blue Note....

.

In 1966, Coleman was criticized for recording The Empty Foxhole, a trio with Haden, and Coleman's son Denardo Coleman
Denardo Coleman
Denardo Ornette Coleman is an American jazz drummer. He is the son of Ornette Coleman and Jayne Cortez.Denardo Coleman began playing drums at age six; his first appearance on record was on his father's 1966 album The Empty Foxhole; Ornette later featured Denardo on many of his releases, and he...

 – who was ten years old. Some regarded this as perhaps an ill-advised piece of publicity on Coleman's part and judged the move a mistake. Others, however, noted that despite his youth, Denardo had studied drumming for several years. His technique – which, though unrefined, was respectable and enthusiastic – owed more to pulse-oriented free jazz
Free jazz
Free jazz is an approach to jazz music that was first developed in the 1950s and 1960s. Though the music produced by free jazz pioneers varied widely, the common feature was a dissatisfaction with the limitations of bebop, hard bop, and modal jazz, which had developed in the 1940s and 1950s...

 drummers like Sunny Murray
Sunny Murray
James Marcellus Arthur "Sunny" Murray is one of the pioneers of the free jazz style of drumming.-Biography:...

 than to bebop
Bebop
Bebop differed drastically from the straightforward compositions of the swing era, and was instead characterized by fast tempos, asymmetrical phrasing, intricate melodies, and rhythm sections that expanded on their role as tempo-keepers...

 drumming. Denardo has matured into a respected musician, and has been his father's primary drummer since the late 1970s.

Coleman formed another quartet. A number of bassists and drummers (including Haden, Jimmy Garrison
Jimmy Garrison
Jimmy Garrison was an American jazz double bassist born in Miami, Florida. He was best known through his long association with John Coltrane from 1961–1967.-Biography:...

 and Elvin Jones
Elvin Jones
Elvin Ray Jones was a jazz drummer of the post-bop era. He showed interest in drums at a young age, watching the circus bands march by his family's home in Pontiac, Michigan....

) appeared, and Dewey Redman
Dewey Redman
Dewey Redman was an American jazz saxophonist, known for performing free jazz as a bandleader, and with Ornette Coleman and Keith Jarrett....

 joined the group, usually on tenor saxophone
Saxophone
The saxophone is a conical-bore transposing musical instrument that is a member of the woodwind family. Saxophones are usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet. The saxophone was invented by the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax in 1846...

.

He also continued to explore his interest in string textures – from the Town Hall concert
Town Hall, 1962 (Ornette Coleman album)
Town Hall, 1962 is an album by Ornette Coleman released on the ESP-Disk label. It was the first recording featuring at its heart his new trio after the ensemble of his Atlantic years....

 in 1962, culminating in Skies of America
Skies of America
-Track listing:# "Skies of America" — 2:49# "Native Americans" — 1:10# "The Good Life" — 1:33# "Birthdays and Funerals" — 3:13# "Dreams" — 0:51# "Sounds of Sculpture" — 1:20# "Holiday for Heroes" — 1:10# "All of My Life" — 3:08# "Dancers" — 1:17...

in 1972. (Sometimes this had a practical value, as it facilitated his group's appearance in the UK in 1965, where jazz musicians were under a quota arrangement but classical performers were exempt.)

In 1969, Coleman was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame
Down Beat
Down Beat is an American magazine devoted to "jazz, blues and beyond" to indicate its expansion beyond the jazz realm which it covered exclusively in previous years. The publication was established in 1934 in Chicago, Illinois...


Later career



Coleman, like Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Dewey Davis III was an American jazz musician, trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Miles Davis was, with his musical groups, at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music, including bebop, cool jazz,...

 before him, took to playing with electrified instruments
Electric instrument
An electric musical instrument is one in which the use of electric devices determines or affects the sound produced by an instrument. It is also known as an amplified musical instrument due to the common utilization of an electronic instrument amplifier to project the intended sound as determined...

. Albums like Virgin Beauty and Of Human Feelings used rock
Rock and roll
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music...

 and funk rhythm
Rhythm
Rhythm may be generally defined as a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions." This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time may be applied to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or...

s, sometimes called free funk
Free funk
Free funk is a term that Allmusic and writer Scott Yanow use to describe a combination of avant-garde jazz with funk music that developed in the 1970s. Leaders of the genre include Ornette Coleman and his Prime Time group, Ronald Shannon Jackson and his group Decoding Society, Jamaaladeen Tacuma...

. On the face of it, this could seem to be an adoption of the jazz fusion
Jazz fusion
Jazz fusion is a musical fusion genre that developed from mixing funk and R&B rhythms and the amplification and electronic effects of rock, complex time signatures derived from non-Western music and extended, typically instrumental compositions with a jazz approach to lengthy group improvisations,...

 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
Dancing in Your Head
Dancing in Your Head is a 1975 release by jazz artist Ornette Coleman. It was the first to feature his electric band, which later became known as Prime Time. It was released originally on A&M Records, but it was re-mastered and re-released in 2000 on A&M/Verve/Universal Records...

), was sufficiently different to have considerable shock value. Electric guitar
Electric guitar
An electric guitar is a guitar that uses the principle of direct electromagnetic induction to convert vibrations of its metal strings into electric audio signals. The signal generated by an electric guitar is too weak to drive a loudspeaker, so it is amplified before sending it to a loudspeaker...

s were prominent, but the music was, at heart, rather similar to his earlier work. These performances have the same angular melodies and simultaneous group improvisation
Improvisation
Improvisation is the practice of acting, singing, talking and reacting, of making and creating, in the moment and in response to the stimulus of one's immediate environment and inner feelings. This can result in the invention of new thought patterns, new practices, new structures or symbols, and/or...

s – what Joe Zawinul
Joe Zawinul
Josef Erich Zawinul was an Austrian-American jazz keyboardist and composer.First coming to prominence with saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, Zawinul went on to play with trumpeter Miles Davis, and to become one of the creators of jazz fusion, an innovative musical genre that combined jazz with...

 referred to as "nobody solos, everybody solos" and what Coleman calls harmolodics
Harmolodics
Harmolodics is the musical philosophy of jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman and is therefore associated primarily with the jazz avant-garde and the free jazz movement, although its implications extend beyond these limits...

– 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
MacGuffin
A MacGuffin is "a plot element that catches the viewers' attention or drives the plot of a work of fiction". The defining aspect of a MacGuffin is that the major players in the story are willing to do and sacrifice almost anything to obtain it, regardless of what the MacGuffin actually is...

: a red herring
Red herring (plot device)
Red herring is an idiomatic expression referring to the rhetorical or literary tactic of diverting attention away from an item of significance...

 of sorts designed to occupy critics overly-focused on Coleman's sometimes unorthodox compositional style.

Jerry Garcia
Jerry Garcia
Jerome John "Jerry" Garcia was an American musician best known for his lead guitar work, singing and songwriting with the band the Grateful Dead...

 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
Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The band was known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, improvisational jazz, psychedelia, and space rock, and for live performances of long...

 on stage twice in 1993 playing the band's "The Other One," "Wharf Rat," "Stella Blue," and covering Bobby Bland
Bobby Bland
Robert Calvin Bland better known as Bobby "Blue" Bland, is an American singer of blues and soul. He is an original member of the Beale Streeters, and is sometimes referred to as the "Lion of the Blues"...

's "Turn On Your Lovelight," among others. Another unexpected association was with guitarist Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny
Patrick Bruce "Pat" Metheny is an American jazz guitarist and composer.One of the most successful and critically acclaimed jazz musicians to come to prominence in the 1970s and '80s, he is the leader of the Pat Metheny Group and is also involved in duets, solo works and other side projects...

, with whom Coleman recorded Song X
Song X
Song X is a free jazz album by Pat Metheny and Ornette Coleman. It was recorded in three days in December 1985 and released in March 1986...

(1985); though released under Metheny's name, Coleman was essentially co-leader (contributing all the compositions).

In 1990, the city of Reggio Emilia
Reggio Emilia
Reggio Emilia is an affluent city in northern Italy, in the Emilia-Romagna region. It has about 170,000 inhabitants and is the main comune of the Province of Reggio Emilia....

 in Italy held a three-day "Portrait of the Artist" featuring a Coleman quartet with Don Cherry, Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins. The festival also presented performances of his chamber music and the symphonic Skies of America.

In 1991, Coleman played on the soundtrack for David Cronenberg
David Cronenberg
David Paul Cronenberg, OC, FRSC is a Canadian filmmaker, screenwriter and actor. He is one of the principal originators of what is commonly known as the body horror or venereal horror genre. This style of filmmaking explores people's fears of bodily transformation and infection. In his films, the...

's Naked Lunch
Naked Lunch (film)
Naked Lunch is the 1991 Canadian/British/Japanese film adaptation, directed by David Cronenberg, of William S. Burroughs' novel of the same name...

; the orchestra was conducted by Howard Shore
Howard Shore
Howard Leslie Shore is a Canadian composer, notable for his film scores. He has composed the scores for over 80 films, most notably the scores for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, for which he won three Academy Awards. He is also a consistent collaborator with director David Cronenberg,...

. It is notable among other things for including a rare sighting of Coleman playing a jazz standard
Jazz standard
Jazz standards are musical compositions which are an important part of the musical repertoire of jazz musicians, in that they are widely known, performed, and recorded by jazz musicians, and widely known by listeners. There is no definitive list of jazz standards, and the list of songs deemed to be...

: Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Sphere Monk was an American jazz pianist and composer considered "one of the giants of American music". Monk had a unique improvisational style and made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire, including "Epistrophy", "'Round Midnight", "Blue Monk", "Straight, No Chaser"...

's blues line “Misterioso.” Two 1972 (pre-electric) Coleman recordings, "Happy House" and "Foreigner in a Free Land" were used in Gus Van Sant
Gus Van Sant
Gus Green Van Sant, Jr. is an American director, screenwriter, painter, photographer, musician, and author. He is a two time nominee of the Academy Award for Best Director for his 1997 film Good Will Hunting and his 2008 film Milk, both of which were also nominated for Best Picture, and won the...

's 1995 Finding Forrester
Finding Forrester
EnglishFinding Forrester is a 2000 American drama film written by Mike Rich and directed by Gus Van Sant. A black American teenager, Jamal Wallace , is invited into a prestigious private high school. By chance, Jamal befriends a reclusive writer, William Forrester , through whom he refines his...

.

The mid-1990s saw a flurry of activity from Coleman: he released four records in 1995 and 1996, and for the first time in many years worked regularly with piano
Piano
The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

 players (either Geri Allen
Geri Allen
Geri Allen is an American composer/pianist educator jazz pianist, raised in Detroit, Michigan, and educated in the Detroit Public Schools. Allen has worked with many of the greats of modern music, including Ornette Coleman, Ron Carter, Ravi Coltrane, Tony Williams, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette,...

 or Joachim Kühn
Joachim Kühn
-Biography:Kühn was a musical prodigy and made his debut as a concert pianist, having studied classical piano and composition with Arthur Schmidt-Elsey. Influenced by his elder brother, clarinetist Rolf Kühn, he simultaneously got interested in jazz. In 1961 he became a professional jazz musician....

).

Coleman has rarely performed on other musicians' records. Exceptions include extensive performances on albums by Jackie McLean
Jackie McLean
John Lenwood McLean was an American jazz alto saxophonist, composer, bandleader and educator, born in New York City.-Biography:McLean's father, John Sr., played guitar in Tiny Bradshaw's orchestra...

 in 1967 (New and Old Gospel
New and Old Gospel
New and Old Gospel is an album by American saxophonist Jackie McLean recorded in 1967 and released on the Blue Note label.-Reception:The Allmusic review by Thom Jurek awarded the album 5 stars and stated "This is one legendary Blue Note date that isn't mentioned often enough in that label's great...

, on which he played trumpet), and James Blood Ulmer in 1978, and cameo appearances on Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono
is a Japanese artist, musician, author and peace activist, known for her work in avant-garde art, music and filmmaking as well as her marriage to John Lennon...

's Plastic Ono Band
Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band
Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band is the avant-garde debut album by Yoko Ono, which came after recording three experimental releases with John Lennon and a live album as a member of The Plastic Ono Band...

album (1970), Jamaaladeen Tacuma
Jamaaladeen Tacuma
-External links:*...

's Renaissance Man (1983), Joe Henry
Joe Henry
Joseph Lee "Joe" Henry is an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and record producer. Henry's musical style spans several genres, including alt. country, rock, jazz and folk.- Early years :...

's Scar (2001) and Lou Reed
Lou Reed
Lewis Allan "Lou" Reed is an American rock musician, songwriter, and photographer. He is best known as guitarist, vocalist, and principal songwriter of The Velvet Underground, and for his successful solo career, which has spanned several decades...

's The Raven (2003).

In September 2006 he released a live album titled Sound Grammar
Sound Grammar
Sound Grammar is an album by jazz saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman, recorded live in Ludwigshafen, Germany, on 14 October 2005. The album was produced by Ornette Coleman and Michaela Deiss, and released on Coleman's new Sound Grammar label. It is his first new album in almost a decade,...

with his newest quartet (Denardo drumming and two bassists, Gregory Cohen
Greg Cohen
A native of Los Angeles, bassist Greg Cohen has been playing in various acclaimed music groups since the '60s. He is perhaps best known for his work with John Zorn's Masada quartet; more recently he has been touring with Ornette Coleman, and performed on Coleman's much-praised Sound Grammar...

 and Tony Falanga). This is his first album of new material in ten years, and was recorded in Germany in 2005. It won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

 for music.

Jazz pianist Joanne Brackeen
Joanne Brackeen
Joanne Brackeen is an American jazz pianist and music educator.-Biography:She was born Joanne Grogan in Ventura, California. She attended the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music, but devoted herself to jazz by imitating Frankie Carle albums...

 (who had only briefly studied music as a child) stated in an interview with Marian McPartland
Marian McPartland
Margaret Marian McPartland, OBE is an English-born jazz pianist, composer, writer, and the host of Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz on National Public Radio, NPR.-Early life:...

 that Coleman has been mentoring her and giving her semi-formal music lessons in recent years.

Legacy


Coleman continues to push himself into unusual playing situations, often with much younger musicians or musicians from radically different musical cultures, and still performs regularly. An increasing number of his compositions, while not ubiquitous, have become minor jazz standard
Jazz standard
Jazz standards are musical compositions which are an important part of the musical repertoire of jazz musicians, in that they are widely known, performed, and recorded by jazz musicians, and widely known by listeners. There is no definitive list of jazz standards, and the list of songs deemed to be...

s, including "Lonely Woman," "Peace," "Turnaround," "When Will the Blues Leave?" "The Blessing," "Law Years," "What Reason Could I Give" and "I've Waited All My Life", among others. He has influenced virtually every saxophonist of a modern disposition, and nearly every such jazz musician, of the generation that followed him. His songs have proven endlessly malleable: pianists such as Paul Bley
Paul Bley
Paul Bley, CM is a pianist known for his contributions to the free jazz movement of the 1960s as well as his innovations and influence on trio playing.-Biography:...

 and Paul Plimley
Paul Plimley
Paul Plimley is a free jazz pianist and vibraphonist. He is one of the doyens of the Canadian jazz avant-garde, a co-founder of the New Orchestra Workshop Society and frequent collaborator with the bassist Lisle Ellis...

 have managed to turn them to their purposes; John Zorn
John Zorn
John Zorn is an American avant-garde composer, arranger, record producer, saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist. Zorn is a prolific artist: he has hundreds of album credits as performer, composer, or producer...

 recorded Spy vs Spy
Spy vs Spy (album)
Spy vs Spy: The Music of Ornette Coleman is a 1989 album by American composer and saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist John Zorn, featuring the compositions of Ornette Coleman performed in the brief intense style of Zorn's hardcore miniatures....

(1989), an album of extremely loud, fast, and abrupt versions of Coleman songs. Finnish jazz singer Carola covered Coleman's "Lonely Woman" and there have even been progressive bluegrass versions of Coleman tunes (by Richard Greene
Richard Greene (fiddle player)
Richard Greene is a violinist and "one of the most innovative and influential fiddle players of all time".-Biography:...

). Coleman's playing has profoundly influenced, directly or otherwise, countless musicians, trying as he has for five decades to understand and discover the shape of not just jazz, but all music to come.

In 2004 Coleman was awarded The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize
The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize
The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize or Gish Prize is given annually to “a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.” It is one of the richest prizes in the American arts, for example the 2010 winner received...

, one of the richest prizes in the arts, given annually to “a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.”

On February 11, 2007, Ornette Coleman was honored with a Grammy award
Grammy Awards of 2007
The 49th Annual Grammy Awards was a ceremony honoring the best in music for the recording year beginning September 15, 2005 and ending September 14, 2006 in the United States. The awards were handed out on Sunday February 11, 2007 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Dixie Chicks...

 for lifetime achievement, in recognition of this legacy.

On July 9, 2009, Ornette Coleman received the Miles Davis Award, a recognition given by the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal
Festival International de Jazz de Montréal
The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal is an annual jazz festival held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Montreal Jazz Fest holds the 2004 Guinness World Record as the world's largest jazz festival...

 to jazz musicians who have contributed along their careers to the evolution of the jazz music.

On May 1, 2010, Ornette was awarded a honorary doctorate in Music from the University of Michigan
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...

for his musical contributions.

External links