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Ornette Coleman RIP

One of the great innovators of 20th Century music has died at the age of 85. Ornette Coleman revolutionized jazz during the 60s with his explorations of free expression, and has since that time been one of the great influences on musicians of all styles. The 85-year-old saxophone master died from a heart attack.

by Jon Davis, Published 2015-06-11

Ornette Coleman (born March 9, 1930 in Fort Worth, Texas) was one of the great polarizing presences in music, reviled as widely as he was admired, especially in his early days and with his landmark albums The Shape of Jazz to Come (1959) and Free Jazz (1961), which were manifestos for those seeking to break the bonds of traditional musical rules.

From The Guardian:

His most enduring ambition was to imagine shared frameworks within which an impulsive and spontaneous music could emerge with the minimum of formality. From collaborations with symphony orchestras to dialogues with musicians and cultures far removed from jazz, his instantly recognisable themes retained that songlike forthrightness, and a childlike frankness and grace.

Far from just being an innovator in musical freedom, Coleman explored traditions from around the world, working with musicians from many different cultures as well as dancers, poets. He was also known to appear in such unlikely contexts as onstage with The Grateful Dead, Lou Reed, and many others.

In his later career, his eclectic Prime Time ensembles fused modern funk with avant-garde jazz to produce some of the most exciting music of the 80s.

Filed under: Obituaries

Related artist(s): Ornette Coleman

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