In Memoriam: Ornette Coleman


Photo Credit: Jimmy Katz

News | Jun, 11th 2015

[Photo Credit: Jimmy Katz]

Jazz at Lincoln Center mourns the passing of a transformative legend in jazz, Mr. Ornette Coleman. Our deepest sympathy goes out to Coleman's family, friends and fans around the world. Recently, Wynton told our staff a story about Ornette that demonstrated his role as an educator and a leader for future generations of jazz musicians and we wanted to share this with you:

 
In the 1950s Ornette lived in New Orleans with drummer Herlin Riley's uncle, Melvin Lastie, a deeply soulful trumpet player. I remember getting to Ornette's house at about 11:00pm and we played our horns until about 2 in the morning without saying a word. Ornette was something – with a rare kind of home-spun seriousness and pure insightfulness that immediately made you feel at home. He said don't worry too much about criticism and to focus on the subtle command of the emotion in my sound and to communicate in the same way a person speaking might raise an eyebrow or scrunch their face.

"After we played, he told me that in the late 1950s my father and Alvin Batiste drove all the way from New Orleans to Los Angeles to visit him.  They rolled up to his crib unannounced and, said 'Hey man, we just came to see what you were dealing with.'

"We laughed about all kinds of stuff and when I finally left his house at 3:30 in the morning he said, 'Don't compete with people, compete with yourself. Music is an idea not a race.

We will continue to celebrate the life and music of Ornette Coleman, one of the great innovators of jazz, whose singular voice created enduring works of art that viscerally express the human experience — and that could only have come from him.  You can learn more about him from this New York Times Articleand seek out his music to listen to…

[Photo by Platon]
 


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