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Ornette Coleman
(1930- )
American American saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter and composer, and key figure in the 1960s free jazz movement


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"I wasn't so interested in being paid. I wanted to be heard. That's why I'm broke."
-- Ornette Coleman, quoted in: Esquire (January 2010)

"His musical inspiration operates in a world uncluttered by conventional bar lines, conventional chord changes, and conventional ways of blowing or fingering a saxophone. Such practical 'limitations' did not even have to be overcome in his music; they somehow never existed for him. Despite this--or more accurately, because of this--his playing has a deep inner logic. Not an obvious surface logic, it is based on subtleties of reaction, subtleties of timing and color that are, I think, quite new to jazz--at least they have never appeared in so pure and direct a form."
-- Gunther Schuller on Ornette Coleman, as quoted in: John Rockwell, All American Music: Composition in the Late Twentieth Century (1983)

"The only semblance of collectivity lies in the fact that these eight nihilists were collected together in one studio at one time with one common cause: to destroy the music that had given them birth. Give them top marks for the attempt."
-- Downbeat associate editor John Tynan on Ornette Coleman's album Free Jazz

"That's what I was trying to say when we were talking about sound. I think that every person, whether they play music or don't play music, has a sound - their own sound, that thing that you're talking about."
-- Ornette Coleman

"It's the hidden things, the subconscious that lies in the body and lets you know: you feel this, you play this."
-- Ornette Coleman

"Jazz is the only music in which the same note can be played night after night but differently each time."
-- Ornette Coleman

If one needs to know whatever one must know about anything to bring them closer to it the joy is in the existence of it and the freedom of arriving to the highest pleasure with it, not from it. To know love is to know love. The skies of America have had more changes to occur under them in this century than any other country: assassinations, political wars, gangster wars, racial wars, space races, women’s rights, sex, drugs and the death of god, all for the betterment of the American people. What then is left to happen under the skies of America but the goodness, a country with so many changes within the nature of its people must have something very special in store for the world to enjoy since it has done so many things to change its own territory and mental relationships to each other. Love, hate and lies live in the nature of all in some manner. America knows all three of these from the world and its people. Why, where and what is the purpose of a country that has the essence of mankind and the blessing of the skies. America is a young country. When it reaches one thousand years will its descendents care about the American Indians whose skies gave so much. All Americans know who, how and why their existence came to be American regardless of the condition. If only then one could be as true as the skies of America.

-- Ornette Coleman. Skies of America, The London Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Measham. CBS, Inc., 1972. Manufactured by Columbia Records/CBS, New York, N.Y. Original album Columbia KC 31562. Excerpt from liner notes, back cover.








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