In the wake of Louis Armstrong
and Charlie Parker
, the saxophonist Ornette Coleman completes a kind of Holy Trinity of jazz improvisation. Like his predecessors, Coleman seems to have reinvented the art, not to mention the expectations of his audience. His keening alto floats free of bar lines, chord sequences, and tempered pitch, but always in the interest of emotional impact. ("There are some intervals," Coleman has said, "that carry that human
quality if you play them in the right pitch.") John Litweiler's biography, the first, is a meticulous and intelligent account, as well as a fine listening companion. Although I've always enjoyed Coleman's own, rather concise account of his life--"Born, work, sad and happy and etc."--it's wonderful to have it fleshed out.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Litweiler, noted jazz critic and a former editor of Downbeat , provides the first full-length biography of jazz innovator Ornette Coleman (1930-). Using material from interviews with Coleman, his sister, and his musical associates, Litweiler describes Coleman's formative years in Texas, his struggle for acceptance in Los Angeles, the 1959 breakthrough at the Five Spot in New York, and his role as one of the leading exponents of free jazz during the experimental Sixties. The author also documents Coleman's violin improvisation, his symphonic works, and his fusion of free jazz with rock rhythms and electric guitars during the last two decades. Though never explaining the connection between Coleman's music and the social context in which it was created, Litweiler has written an extremely well-researched, interesting account of a jazz great that should appeal to general readers and jazz fans alike.- David Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle
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