Playlist: Exploration and Innovation - The Music of Ornette Coleman


Listen to our Ornette Coleman playlist!

News | Dec, 26th 2019

Rejecting much of bebop's harmonic and rhythmic rules in favor of a melody-driven aesthetic, Ornette Coleman became one of the most significant innovators in jazz history. Throughout his career, he reimagined jazz traditions and embraced collective improvisation that flowed through tempo, rhythm, and tonal shifts. Credited as one of the pioneers of the free jazz style (in fact, the term itself may come from Coleman's 1961 album Free Jazz), Coleman would also branch into a range of other genres throughout his career and create both pioneering chamber and orchestral works, as well as exceptional fusion projects.

While much of Coleman’s music was written and not fully improvised, he often rejected pre-written chords and standard song structures, leaning heavily on the improvisational skill of his musicians. These factors led to the development of Coleman’s musical philosophy, which he ultimately called “harmolodics.” In a 1983 issue of DownBeatColeman described harmolodics as "the use of the physical and the mental of one's own logic made into an expression of sound to bring about the musical sensation of unison executed by a single person or with a group.” Through his music and philosophy, Coleman inspired a new wave of musicians and changed the face of jazz forever. 

Listen to our playlist featuring some of the best of Ornette Coleman below!

***Photo Credit: Ornette Coleman***


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Ornette Coleman left an incredible recorded legacy, many of them genre-changing masterpieces.

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