Ornette Coleman broke the rules, or maybe he made up his own: no rules.
Born in 1930, in Fort Worth, Texas, Ornette Coleman was dismissed from his high school band program for improvising! There was really no name for his style; by 1958, he had released an album, “Something Else!!!!: The Music of Ornette Coleman.” He brought unorthodox theory to the free jazz movement, and named his 1961 album “Free Jazz.” He is recognized for music like “Broadway Blues,” a key free jazz work. In his early music, he played plastic saxophones, along with trumpet and violin.
He was controversial in the early years of his career, and for many more years. He often faced criticism, and was once assaulted after a show in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; his saxophone was destroyed. He formed and re-formed performance groups, recorded for many labels, and toured all over the world.
Over a lifetime of creating and performing, Ornette Coleman won the respect of musicians and fans. He recorded the “Song X” album in 1985 with Pat Metheny, composing all the music. Jerry Garcia played on Coleman’s 1988 album, “Virgin Beauty.” Coleman joined the Grateful Dead onstage in a 1993 concert.
Eventually, his genius was acknowledged and he won awards all over the world, including a MacArthur Fellowship in 1994. In 2007, his album “Sound Grammar” was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music.
Ornette Coleman was quoted by Ben Ratliff in the New York Times, Sept. 22, 2006: “Being a human, you’re required to be in unison: upright.”