Thursday, June 11, 2015


Ornette Coleman was one of the true greats of jazz. As a saxophonist, he pioneered what would become to be called “free jazz.” In fact, he is often credited with actually inventing it, or at least putting a name to it, after naming his 1960 album, Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation. Born in Forth Worth, TX., Coleman spent much of his early career traveling around the United States performing along regional jazz circuits. Along the way he began to incorporate country blues and R&B into his sound.

In his slower pieces, his high timbre can come across as crying, which appealed to fans of the blues as well. In 1959, while living in New York, Coleman released The Shape of Things To Come, and a year later, Free Jazz. Both releases broke him through in a big way and laid the foundation for the avant-garde movement of the 1960s and beyond. In later years Coleman dabbled in rock, even performing with the Grateful Dead on occasion. In 2007, he became the first musician to win a Pulitzer Prize – for his album, Sound Grammar. He continued to perform and record up until the time of his death. Ornette Coleman was 85 when he died of cardiac arrest on June 11, 2015.

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