Saturday, June 13th

by musicclipoftheday

passings

Ornette Coleman, saxophonist (trumpeter and violinist, too), composer, bandleader, March 9, 1930-June 11, 2015

Today we remember him by revisiting earlier posts.

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3/9/11

His sound—his whole approach (simple melodies, vocal phrasing, off-center intonation)—is drenched in the blues.

Ornette Coleman (alto saxophone) with The Roots
Live, London (Meltdown Festival), 2009

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The tenor player at the end—that’s David Murray.

*****

3/9/12

Ornette Coleman Quartet with guests Joshua Redman (tenor saxophone), James Blood Ulmer (guitar), Charlie Haden (bass), live, Netherlands (North Sea Jazz Festival, Rotterdam), 2010

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*****

6/16/14

Ornette, at 84, still plays some of the most haunting blues I’ve ever heard.

Ornette Coleman (alto saxophone), with Henry Threadgill (alto saxophone; MCOTD Hall of Famer), David Murray (tenor saxophone), Savion Glover (tap dance), et al., live, New York (Prospect Park), 6/12/14

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odds & ends (from posts featuring clips no longer available)

On the Ornette Coleman Quartet (OC, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, Ed Blackwell): The sounds you don’t hear can mean as much as the ones you do. Here, for instance, it’s hard to overstate the importance of what isn’t onstage—a harmony instrument (piano, guitar). Without it, the drums move forward in the mix. The bass has more space to fill. The sound of each instrument becomes clearer, more distinct. The group sound becomes lighter, more open.

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When we were on relief during the Depression, they’d give us dried-up old cheese and dried milk and we’d get ourselves all filled up and we’d kept this thing going, singing and dancing. I remember that when I play. You have to stick to your roots. Sometimes I play happy. Sometimes I play sad. But the condition of being alive is what I play all the time.

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You know what I realize? That all sound has a need. Otherwise it wouldn’t have a use. Sound has a use. . . . You use it to establish something—an invisible presence or some belief. . . . But isn’t it amazing that sound causes the idea to sound the way it is, more than the idea?

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Music has no face. Whatever gives oxygen its power, music is cut from the same cloth.

—Ornette Coleman

(The first and last quotes are from Ornette’s website. The second is from Ben Ratliff, The Jazz Ear: Conversations over Music [2008].)

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How can I turn emotion into knowledge? That’s what I try to do with my horn.

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It’s not that I reject categories. It’s that I don’t really know what categories are.

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You take the alphabet of the English language. A to Z. A symbol attached to a sound. In music you have what are called notes and the key. In life you’ve got an idea and an emotion. We think of them as different concepts. To me, there is no difference.

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The violin, the saxophone, the trumpet: Each makes a very different sound but the very same notes. That’s pretty heavy, you know? Imagine how many different races make up the human race. I’m called colored, you’re called white, he’s called something else. We still got an asshole and a mouth. Pardon me.

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I don’t try to please when I play. I try to cure.

—Ornette Coleman

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lagniappe

radio

WKCR’s memorial broadcast, where I spent much of yesterday, continues through Wednesday.