Happy Birthday, Ornette Coleman!

Ornette Coleman, the man who changed jazz in 1959.

Ornette Coleman

Free Jazz Pioneer, Ornette Coleman. For more of his music, click the image.

Saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter, and composer Randall Denard Ornette Coleman was born March 9, 1930 in Fort Worth, Texas. Coleman is one of the giants who not only has
created a vast body of work, but has also showed potentials in the music that have been life-changing for musicians and music fans all over the world. There are few good videos of him, so we were glad to find this one of him performing one of  his compositions, the timeless and ever-haunting “Lonely Woman,” one of the most haunting melodies in the history of jazz. This performance was at the Theatre Antique de Vienne at part of Jazz a Vienne in 2008.  This was one of the compositions that put Ornette on the map when he literally burst on the scene, his music practically kicking down the doors of jazz convention.  In time, what many came to realize is that his music, far from being haphazard and random as some claimed, was not only highly ordered, but actually reached deep into the roots of black music in general and jazz in particular.  In 1959 when Ornette first became a public figure, jazz was emphasizing a cool, ultra-polished form. Nothing wrong with that, but the art form is much, much bigger. As much as any musician in the tradition, Ornette’s music made room for the widest and deepest possible range of expression for all.

Since there are so few videos of Ornette’s early years in the public eye, this is an audio-only track. When you hear it, you’ll know why. Ornette with fellow giants Charlie Haden,
Don Cherry, and Bill Higgins. One of the great tracks in the history of all music…

Rare footage of Ornette from the early years of Ornette’s career. If you know and love Ornette’s music, you won’t want to miss this. If his work is new to you, this is a good
place to start to understand his approach.

Ornette has had many phases in his career. Nothing seems to have been recorded of his pre-1959 work. Film from the 1959 era when he literally exploded on the scene is so scarce as to be non-existent. After stepping away from the music business for a few years at the height of his early popularity, he came back to the public eye in 1965. During that first “return” phase, thankfully someone had the presence of mind to make this documentary.

The “Ornette Coleman Trio” in Paris in 1966.


Ornette Coleman, alto sax
David Izenzon, bass
Charles Moffett, drums

Ornette Coleman’s famous trio are featured during their 1966 visit to Paris to record the soundtrack for the Belgium film, “Who’s Crazy?” directed by Dick Fontaine.


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