Speaking of Texas: Free Spirit
By Reggie Ugwu
In the 1950s and 1960s, when most jazz artists were producing smooth and danceable tunes that entered the mainstream, pioneer saxophonist Ornette Coleman revitalized and challenged the genre with an innovative and improvisational approach known as free jazz.
He was born in
The budding musician soon began playing in local rhythm and blues bands, and he developed an unorthodox style early on, so much so that he had difficulty finding like-minded musicians who were comfortable with his loose treatment of harmony and chord progression.
It was his six-week gig at the legendary Five Spot nightclub in
Coleman’s 1960 release Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation, made his most lasting impact on jazz culture. Ornette fortified a new genre that would adopt the album title as its own. At nearly 40 minutes long, the Free Jazz session was the longest recorded continuous session by any ensemble to date.
Coleman and his band continue to tour today. See Ornette Coleman online for tour dates, a discography, and more information.
From the October 2008 issue.