I was saddened to hear today of the passing of Ornette Coleman. He was 85, and he had a great run. He created a fantastic body of music, governed by a tremendously strong personal vision, pushing the boundaries of his genre.
I didn’t grow up listening to Coleman’s brand of jazz. Instead, my dad used to blast Dixieland in the house when I was a kid. I heard a lot of Dixieland but Dad dismissed “that modern jazz”. I think my friend Vox introduced me to Ornette Coleman’s music. We listened to hours of it over a period of many years while playing the game of Go. Along the way I started listening to Coleman’s music in my painting studio, because I responded to it in a very visual way, and because it helped me get to that magic place where painting is thinking. I even made a painting called Ornette Coleman, which I exhibited in a show called c.1997 here in Toronto.
For those readers who don’t know Ornette Coleman’s music, I encourage you to take some time and give it a listen. Here’s a sample I plucked from the YouTube machine. It’s a live performance of Dancing in Your Head in which Mr. Coleman plays alto sax, violin and trumpet.