Ornette Coleman

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Biography

9 March 1930, Fort Worth, Texas, USA. The evolution of any art form is a complex process and it is always an over-simplification to attribute a development to a single person. If there is anyone apart from Louis Armstrong for whom that claim could be made, however, Ornette Coleman would be a tenable candidate. Charlie Parker and John Coltrane were great forces for progress, but they focused and made viable certain concepts that were already in the air and which only awaited some exceptionally talented artist to give them concrete shape. They accelerated evolution, but did not change the direction of jazz in the way that Armstrong and Coleman seem to have done. Of course, certain elements of Coleman’s music, including free improvisation, had been tried previously and he certainly did not reject what had gone before: his playing is well-rooted in the soil of Parker’s bop tradition, and in R&B - Coleman’s playing is a logical development from both,...

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