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Ornette Coleman

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Fort Worth TX, United States (1930 – present)

Ornette Coleman (born 1930) is an American and . He is one of the major innovators of the 1960s movement and one of the most notable figures in jazz history.

Coleman was born on 9th March 1930 in Fort Worth, Texas, where he began performing rhythm and blues and bebop, initially on tenor saxophone. He later switched to alto, which has remained his primary instrument. Coleman’s timbre is perhaps one of the most easily recognised in jazz; his keening, crying sound draws heavily on the blues. Part of the uniqueness of his sound came from his use of a plastic saxophone on his classic early recordings (Coleman claimed that it sounded drier, without the pinging sound of metal), though in more recent years he has played a metal saxophone.

Coleman is most famous for his albums The Shape of Jazz to Come (1959), Free Jazz (1961), and Skies Of America (1972). In The Shape of Jazz to Come, he and his famous quartet, consisting of Don Cherry on trumpet, Charlie Haden on upright bass, and Billy Higgins on drums, play solos free of a chordal structure, due in part to the absence of the pianist or guitarist that had been traditional in jazz. On Free Jazz, Coleman brings together his quartet from the previous album, together with multi-instrumental reedist Eric Dolphy, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, bassist Scott LaFaro, and drummer Ed Blackwell for a forty-minute double-quartet recording.

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