February 25, 2024

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The free soul of Ornette Coleman: Videos, Photos

Abstraction came late to jazz. New York’s abstract expressionism art movement emerged in the late 1940s and flourished throughout the 1950s.

Architecture and sculpture were inventing new design rules as well. By contrast, free jazz didn’t coalesce as a genre until the late 1950s, though there were inklings of the style in the music of Lee Konitz, Lennie Tristano, Teddy Charles, George Russell, Jim Hall and Jimmy Giuffre throughout the decade. Not until alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman and his followers did free jazz become a robust jazz approach starting in 1959. While the music can be difficult to grasp for listeners accustomed to structure and familiar songs, it is breathtaking once you re-calibrate your aesthetic sensitivity and open your mind to a new set of rules of expression.

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To help you along, here’s a two-part documentary on free jazz and Ornette Coleman, who was born 88 years ago on March 9. He died in 2015:

Ornette-web

Part 1…

Part 2…

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