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Ornette Coleman

Born: March 9, 1930    Primary Instrument: Sax, alto

Ornette Coleman

Early on in his career, alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman, recorded an album entitled, The Shape of Jazz To Come. It might have seemed like an expression of youthful arrogance - Coleman was 29 at the time - but actually, the title was prophetic. Coleman is the creator of a concept of music called “harmolodic,” a musical form which is equally applicable as a life philosophy. The richness of harmolodics derives from the unique interaction between the players. Breaking out of the prison bars of rigid meters and conventional harmonic or structural expectations, harmolodic musicians improvise equally together in what Coleman calls compositional improvisation, while always keeping deeply in tune with the flow, direction and needs of their fellow players. In this process, harmony becomes melody becomes harmony. Ornette describes it as “Removing the caste system from sound.” On a broader level, harmolodics equates with the freedom to be as you please, as long as you listen to others and work with them to develop your own individual harmony.

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