Jazz Pioneer Ornette Coleman Dead At 85 (Recap)
The alto saxophonist and composer was one of the most powerful and contentious innovators in the history of jazz. With his "out" and "free" style, he helped shaped the majority of music that would come in the latter part of the 20th century, both pop and avant grade included.
An extremely important figure in modern jazz music, he's also influenced a number of musicians outside of that genre: Lou Reed was a fan, and Coleman played on Reed's The Raven album. Ditto Bruce Hornsby, who also collaborated with him on a track.
In the late '80s and early '90s, Coleman's influence was felt in alternative rock music, via two of his biggest fans, Vernon Reid of Living Colour, whose guitar solos recalled Coleman's free jazz experimentation, and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Flea wrote of the experience, "I practiced for months to prepare. I was nervous about it and when the big day came, I was up there with these great jazz musicians with all the chops in the world playing maniacally, and I'm just an uneducated punk rocker, but I did my best. I did OK. I was in awe of Ornette, and did my best to support him with all my heart."
When the Red Hot Chili Peppers performed at the GRAMMY Awards in 2007, Flea covered his amps with a sign that said, "Love to Ornette Coleman," as Coleman was in the audience that night to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. Watch the video here.
Looking to check out the man's music? Start with 1959's The Shape of Jazz to Come, one of his first albums, and one with a rather prescient title.
Read more - here.
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