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The Shape of Jazz to Come

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After this revolutionary 1959 release, jazz was never the same. Its unconventional lineup eschewed chordal instruments, transmogrifying traditional harmonic concepts into a stark, stirring and new vision of avant jazz. Coleman's forward-looking sax improvisations are bold and brilliant—as expressive as a human voice and capable of sounding unhinged ("Focus on Sanity"), bittersweet ("Lonely Woman") or even impish ("Peace"), as the moment demands. On the cyclone-like "Eventually" and powerful "Chronology", the combo's visceral but empathetic interplay highlights the cunning behind the chaos.


Born: 09 March 1930 in Fort Worth, TX

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of the most important (and controversial) innovators of the jazz avant-garde, Ornette Coleman gained both loyal followers and lifelong detractors when he seemed to burst on the scene in 1959 fully formed. Although he, and Don Cherry in his original quartet, played opening and closing melodies together, their solos dispensed altogether with chordal improvisation and harmony, instead playing quite freely off of the mood of the theme. Coleman's tone (which purposely wavered in pitch) rattled some...
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