Ornette Coleman (1930-2015)


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Ornette Coleman, whose highly expressive approach to jazz jolted listeners and deeply influenced jazz, rock and funk musicians in the 1960s and beyond, died Thursday morning in Manhattan. He was 85.

At about 10 a.m. yesterday, one of my Wall Street Journal editors emailed asking if I could turn around an appreciation for Speakeasy, the paper's online arts section. With two interviews for other stories looming at noon and 2 p.m., I had just a little over an hour to wrap it. You'll find the result here.

I also reached out to Sonny Rollins to chat about Coleman's legacy:

“When I went to Los Angeles in early 1957, Ornette and I used to practice on the beach. Ornette was authentic. He wasn’t just jumping into improvisation. He knew exactly what he was doing. He was channeling Charlie Parker’s free spirit. He also was adventurous. It takes enormous courage to play music that many people might not like and to stick with it, no matter what. In this regard, Ornette made a great contribution that freed a lot of artists to go further and look deeper inside themselves.”

JazzWax clip: Here's Sonny Rollins and Ornette Coleman squaring off in 2010, at Sonny's 80th birthday concert at New Yorks Beacon Theatre...


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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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