coleman shape

People walked out of his gigs, musicians refused to play with him. For many, Ornette Coleman’s music was unplayable and unlistenable. Of all the great innovators in jazz, Coleman was the one least willing to compromise or to backtrack. John Coltrane observed, in 1961, that the 12 minutes he had spent on stage with Coleman amounted to ‘the most intense moment of my life’. His death this week deprives us of one of the great, truly great, musicians of the twentieth century.

Through a series of seminal albums in the late 1950s and early 1960s – Something Else!!!!, Tomorrow is the Question!The Shape of Jazz to Come, Change of the Century,This Is Our Music, Free Jazz – Coleman came to define the avant garde. Together with John Coltrane, he changed the course of jazz, freeing it from bebop, pushing it in new directions. Probably more…

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