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Speaking of Texas: Free Spirit

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Ornette Coleman, courtsey of Big HassleBy 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 Fort Worth in 1930, a time when there were few opportunities for African-Americans. But Coleman, whose was raised by his widowed mother, bought his first alto saxophone at the age of 14 and taught himself to play.


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 New York, that announced Coleman as one of the genre’s most exciting and original forces.


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.


Also, check out more information on Jazz festivals in Texas.

Read 12820 times Last modified on Friday, 13 July 2012 13:06

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