6 Comments (since 17 Jun 2015)
Randolph Denard Ornette Coleman was born in Fort Worth, Texas, USA, on March 9th 1930. He attended I M Terrell High School, where he participated in a band, until he was dismissed for improvising. He began performing 'R&B' and 'bebop', and started a band, the 'Jam Jivers', with some fellow students, including Prince Lasha and Charles Moffett.
Seeking a way to work his way out of his home town, he took a job in 1949 with a New Orleans travelling show, and then with touring 'R&B' shows. He then joined the band of Pee Wee Crayton, and travelled with them to Los Angeles. He worked at various jobs, including as an elevator operator, while continuing to pursue his musical career. In 1958, Coleman led his first recording session for "Contemporary, Something Else!!!!: The Music of Ornette Coleman".
In November 1959, Coleman, along with his Quartet consisting of trumpeter Don Cherry, drummer Billy Higgins, and bassist Charlie Haden, hit the Five Spot Café in Manhattan, his first New York gig. An initial two-week engagement then stretched to two and a half months.
In 1960, Coleman recorded "Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation", which featured a 'double quartet', including Cherry and Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet, Haden and LaFaro on bass, and both Higgins and Ed Blackwell on drums.
Coleman went on to perform with various line-ups and at various venues for the rest of his life, with his final performance occurring at Prospect Park in Brooklyn in June 2014, as part of a tribute to him organised by his son Denardo, a drummer and producer who began performing with his father at age 10.
Ornette Coleman died in New York from cardiac arrest on June 11th 2015, aged 85. His son survives him. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/12/arts/music/ornette-coleman-jazz-saxophonist-dies-at-85-obituary.html