Picasso’s Guernica, Iraq war and jazz music


This video says about itself:

Guernica Iraq

22 December 2006

Guernica” was painted by Picasso in 1937. It depicts the senseless massacre by the Nazi Luftwaffe in the Basque city of Guernica, Spain. The attack was ordered at the behest of fascist Spanish General, Francisco Franco, during the Spanish Civil War. Guernica was a non-military target, the innocent people of the town were attacked in an attempt to psychologically break the will of those who opposed Franco‘s fascistic nationalist pursuit.

Picasso captured an intense scene reflecting the deeply unjust suffering, agony and despair experienced by the people of Guernica. And in doing so he produced one of the most iconic, powerful and affecting pieces of anti-war artwork ever put to canvas. It is little surprise then that a reproduction of the painting, which hangs outside the entrance to the UN Security Council, was covered while Colin Powell was attempting to sell the Iraq War to the world.

The people of Iraq are suffering what amounts to the similar unjust brutality inflicted on the people of Guernica, except it’s practically on a daily basis. A more accurate comparison would be to imagine having the London Tube and Bus bombings everyday. And have them happen so often that they become a predictable daily occurrence and part of life.

By Chris Searle in Britain:

An assault on the eyes of false consciousness

Tuesday 1st November 2016

Barry Guy
The Blue Shroud
(Intakt CD266)

IN 2003 George Bush’s US media officials in New York hung a blue drape over the tapestry copy of Picasso’s mural Guernica in the UN building, immediately before the US secretary of state Colin Powell announced his government’s intentions of invading Iraq.

This shameful act of the fear of revolutionary culture and the proclaiming of a brutal attack, in which Blair’s government was fully complicit and participatory, is now remembered in the album The Blue Shroud by the London-born bassist Barry Guy’s Blue Shroud Band.

Guy, born in 1947, was classically trained, but became one of jazz’s prime free-form bassists, being an integral part of John Stevens’s and Trevor Watts’ spontaneous Music Ensemble (1967-70), a member of other pioneering free bands like Amalgam and Paul Rutherford’s Iskra 1903 and a founder of the much larger London Jazz Composers’ Orchestra.

I first saw Guernica at the Museum of Modern Art, again in New York, in June 1968 after months of protests against the US war in Vietnam and in support of some of the civil rights movement, including the Poor People’s campaign in Washington DC earlier in June. No other work of public art had ever had such an effect on me.

I stared at its figures — the bull, the agonised horse, the woman with her child, the screaming man with upraised arms below the sky on fire — and wondered about what each of them emblematised.

But it was the whole wall-sized work and its unfettered pain that crushed any illusory defence in my mind and I eventually walked away with a completely new view of art and culture.

That same assault on the eyes of false consciousness is expressed through Guy’s sonic masterpiece, as the shroud of epochal Bush-Blair untruth is ripped from the listener’s ears by some of Europe’s most powerful free music stalwarts.

These include the Spanish drummer Ramon Lopez (whose own remarkable album Songs of the Spanish Civil War celebrated his compatriots’ courage and love of freedom), the Majorca-born and Barcelona-trained pianist Augusti Fernandez, the French tuba virtuoso Michel Godard and the Swiss drummer Lucas Niggli.

Percy Pursglove’s mournful, shuddering trumpet introduces the Prelude, the viola and violin resonate, and Ben Dwyer’s guitar remembers the nightscape of Spain’s horror of fascism and war.

Savina Yannatou sings the words of Symbols of Guernica, written by the Irish poet Kerry Hardie, inside the rumbling drums and Fernandez’s defiant journeys up and down his keys.

In the track called Bull/Mother and Child/Warrior, Godard’s tuba growls below the pain of the saxophones and the crashing percussion.

Julius Gabriel’s baritone horn gurgles, as if it were making its last sounds.

Guy uses extracts of Biber’s Rosary Sonatas to create a sudden sequence of pure viola melodic beauty before Yannatou sings of the futile journey of The Blinded Bird of Hope, underscored by the sawing strings of Guy’s bass.

Picasso’s bulb at the highest point of his mural is written down by Hardie in this way: “The single bulb of torture keeps the faith, wild theories drive the gun’s demented roar. In cities now laid open to the sky, unblinking, the relentless eye of war.”

It is of now-times and now-wars of which she writes and Guy and his bandmates play.

This music video says about itself:

BARRY GUY: The Bird (2016)

From the album “The Blue Shroud” (Intakt 2016)

Percy Pursglove: trumpet
Torben Snekkestad: soprano saxophone, trumpet
Michael Niesemann: alto saxophone, oboe
Per Texas Johansson: tenor saxophone, clarinet
Julius Gabriel: baritone saxophone
Michel Godard: tuba, serpent
Maya Homburger: violin
Fanny Paccoud: viola
Ben Dwyer: guitar
Agustí Fernández: piano
Barry Guy: double bass
Lucas Niggli: drums, percussion
Ramón López: drums, percussion
Savina Yannatou: voice

The Chris Searle article continues:

In Bird and the Biber aria that follows, Godard’s delving tuba sounds like a fanfare of hope before Maya Homburger’s scintillating violin chorus sings throughout the crushed city where “death-smoke hangs in oily black-ended palls.”

Stare at and imbibe Picasso’s images before you listen to Guy’s astonishing soundscape. You will hear Aleppo, Fallujah and their people’s horror, and in the final track, a fusion of Guy and Bach’s Agnus Dei, you will perhaps perceive a distant glimpse of human peace and unity.

Danish government punishes old lady for helping refugee baby


This video says about itself:

Danish human rights campaigner found guilty of smuggling

11 March 2016

* Couple’s lawyer says no money changed hands
* Family of six were driven from a Danish ferry terminal to a bridge crossing leading to Sweden
* Couple has two weeks to appeal

A court in Denmark has fined a prominent children’s rights campaigner for giving a family of Syrian migrants a ride across the country to Sweden.

Read more here.

Translated from Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad:

She helped stranded refugees and was fined 3,350 euros

Several hundred Danes were given thousands of euros fines because they helped stranded refugees. Lise Ramslog for example, a year ago she helped refugees with a newborn baby to Malmö and was punished for it.

Eppo König

September 5, 2016

On the day Lise Ramslog (70) became a people smuggler, she actually only wanted to go to an ATM. It was Monday, September 7th, 2015, a year ago, when the first wave of refugees reached Denmark.

In her little red Skoda she rode in the afternoon to the bank in Rødbyhavn, a southern port town. “Then I saw a lot of exhausted people sitting and lying along the highway,” says the Danish woman. “Not a pretty sight.”

Around 300 refugees, mostly Syrians and Iraqis, had arrived through Germany by train and ferry in Denmark. Police had halted rail traffic. In the heat then men, women and children walked on the E47 highway to the Swedish city Malmö, almost 200 kilometers away. From some crossovers xenophobes spat on them.

First Ramslog turned her car around. “I did not want to see those people. I thought, I’m going to the woods … But on the way I saw a resident talk to refugees, two couples and a young boy. They pointed to my car and said Sweden, Sweden! They showed me their railway tickets from Hamburg to Malmö. I had better bring them to the station in Maribo, I thought. That was not so far.”

She tells her story in the office of Lisbeth Zornig in Copenhagen. Zornig was children’s ombudswoman in Denmark from 2010 to 2012 and is half of a well-known detective thriller author couple with her husband, former journalist Mikael Lindholm. Like Lise Ramslog she also that September day helped hiking refugees. Both were convicted this year to a fine. This month is the appeal of Zornig and Lindholm. To nearly 160 Danes the same happened last year. This year their number is in the hundreds, appears from media reports. …

The refugee crisis came two months after the appointment of a new Liberal minority government with tacit support of the radical right-wing Danish People’s Party (DF). Strict asylum laws, translated into Arabic published in Lebanese newspapers, refugees had to be put off. Family reunification for asylum seekers is impossible in the first year, they said. The police may confiscate money and [jewelry] property as a contribution to shelter. …

In Denmark you can get up to two years in prison, or a fine, if you deliberately help ‘aliens’ across the border, transport or host them. Danes who do that are legally traffickers. In the Netherlands it is also against the law, but only if it is “for profit” or for money.

“If you offer a stranger a cup of coffee at home in Denmark or allow him or her to sit on the carrier of your bicycle, that’s criminal,” says Mikael Lindholm. Zornig: “They criminalize decency.”

Lise Ramslog does not know how the men and women in her car were called and where they came from. They did not speak each other’s language. Through the rearview mirror they smiled at each other. “They laughed when I laughed. I could see that they were afraid.” She gave them some lemonade and biscuits.

A baby under her dress

“From the back seat I heard strange noises. I looked and saw that one of the women hid something under her clothes: a newborn baby! Then I decided to bring them all the way to Copenhagen. Yes, and there I saw again signs with Sweden on them – to Malmö you just cross a toll bridge. So I just drove on.”

She is used to make mileage. Ramslog is a former professional driver, transporting flowers.

The toll was nearly 130 euros – she had just enough money in her pocket. There was no passport control. “Thank you, thank you, they kept saying when we were over the border. And, money, money. I was not sure whether they wanted money or wanted to give me money. But I said ‘No, thanks’ and gave the boy my glass brooch: a four-leaf clover. I had received it from my sister, because my daughter had died the previous year. They wanted to return the brooch, but I said, he’s still young. I hope he has more luck in life than me.”

On her way back Ramslog came across a police cordon. “I saw large white buses with refugees in them. How nice, I thought. They have arranged buses so that all those people do not have to walk. But they did not go to where they wanted to, they were deported to the ferry to Germany.”

At half past eleven at night she was finally back in her remote home in Nakskov. “My husband was worried and had called friends. I had not brought a phone. I was barefoot all the time. That’s the way I like walking in the woods.”

The next day, her husband said: “You realize you’re a smuggler? So they say on TV about people who help refugees.” Ramslog could not believe it. She put her story on Facebook. They drove back to the bank and met radio and TV journalists. “I told them what had happened. It really popped out. And that was in the news.”

Sometime later a policeman called. “You know why I call?, he said. I said it probably will not be for my speeding ticket. He asked me to make a statement. I do not know what will happen, he said. Maybe you will be prosecuted. ”

She began to worry only when she received a summons and was advised to find a lawyer. “You know what that cost? My husband and I live on 940 euros per month. I just told the judge the story myself. When the decision came, I almost fell off my chair. A fine of 3,350 euros! Since I am retired, they were so “nice” to halve the amount. They did not hang me, but just chopped my hand off.”

I do not regret it

The couple Zornig and Lindholm was fined 6,000 euros together for smuggling. Zornig that September day was also near Rødbyhavn for lecturing. They took to their beach house six refugees. Her husband later in Copenhagen put them on the train to Sweden. She was also filmed by journalists and put a photo of the group on Twitter. “Refugees Pit Stop”, she wrote.

“When people saw that, many more drove to the south with food, drinks and diapers,” says Zornig. “The police can only prosecute people who themselves told to have helped refugees, like us. And people against whom complaints were made by people who were angry about the helping. I am being sued by more than ten people, even by people from Norway and Iceland. We know their names, but we do not know them.”

Acquittal for the same offense

Last month something interesting happened. Two cohabiting women were acquitted for the same offense: a councilor of Aarhus city and a candidate for parliament. They allowed two refugees to stay overnight and bought tickets for them for the ferry to Norway. The court was not certain that they helped “aliens” “intentionally”.

Lindholm: “So it goes then with two politicians. My faith in our legal system has been considerably eroded. … A man who has got a 670 euro fine when he spat on refugees last year. And we get a 6000 euro fine? What example do we give that way?

Things turned out well with the penalty for Ramslog. The Danish jazz musician Benjamin Koppel started a crowd-fund action for Zornig and Lindholm. In a short time he raised nearly 22,000 euros. That also paid Ramslog’s fine. But they still can not tell the story without tears. “I have no regrets and I’m not angry. I just can not understand and do not accept that I’m convicted of something I do not consider to be criminal.” …

If Ramslog goes to the shops, she always passes a refugee center. “There is no bus. If people want to buy something, they have to walk five kilometers. But if I drive along, they know they can get a ride. They are very grateful. I simply will keep doing it. And that is not illegal, because those people have papers.”

This is a jazz music video by Marie Carmen Koppel & Benjamin Koppel – Cause It Reminds Me Of You.

Singer Natalie Cole, RIP


This 2012 music video is called Natalie Cole LIVE – Unforgettable; a computer generated duet with her father, the late Nat King Cole.

From the Daily Record in Scotland:

Singer Natalie Cole dies aged 65: Musician and daughter of Nat King Cole passes away

16:53, 1 Jan 2016
Updated 17:22, 1 Jan 2016

By Rebecca Pocklington

The star, who had hits including This Will Be and Unforgettable, reportedly fell ill at the end of last year and was forced to cancel several live tour dates

Singer Natalie Cole has died aged 65.

The famed musician and daughter of star Nat King Cole reportedly passed away in a Los Angeles hospital after cancelling a series of live tour dates due to illness recently.

According to TMZ, the singer died from congestive heart failure, but suffered from several health issues with complications from a kidney transplant and Hepatitis C also contributing.

Natalie also suffered from liver disease and received chemotherapy in 2008 for Hepatitis C. …

Tributes have poured in and Rev. Jesse Jackson tweeted on New Year’s Day: “#NatalieCole, sister beloved & of substance and sound. May her soul rest in peace. #Inseperable.”

Tragically her father died before Natalie began her solo career, but she continue[d] to soar to success. …

She won an incredible nine Grammys from 21 nominations over her career, including the Best New Artist Grammy.

Cole was married three times and leaves behind a son, Robert Adam “Robbie” Yancy, from her first marriage to producer Marvin Yancy.

Duke Ellington’s jazz and classical music in Amsterdam church


This video from the Netherlands says about itself:

When Amsterdam expanded in western direction in the beginning of the 17th century, new churches were needed. One of these new churches was the Westerkerk (The Western church), built between 1620-1638. The initial designer of the Westerkerk was Hendrick de Keyser, whose son Pieter took over after his father died in 1621.

On 15 November 2015, there was a concert in the Westerkerk in Amsterdam. This church is not far from the Anne Frank House. Anne Frank could see the church’s tower from her window in the secret annexe during World War II.

The big church was full of people for the concert. There ware many people on stage as well. The Nationaal Symfonisch Kamerorkest this time, besides their usual classical music instruments, had jazz instruments like drums and saxophones as well.

There was also a big choir. Really, a merger for this concert of two Amsterdam choirs: GrootNoord, from the north of the city. And Singi Nanga Firi, a Surinamese name for a multicultural Christian choir.

Westerkerk concert flyer

The music was by Michael Tippett, a British classical composer, inspired by African American music in the ‘Five Negro Spirituals’ in his work A Child Of Our Time. After Tippett came the Sacred Concert, by famous United States jazz musician Duke Ellington, with classical music influences as well. This was the first time ever for Ellington‘s Sacred Concert in the Netherlands, as one needs many people to perform it. Tippett’s Spirituals had been performed only rarely in the Netherlands.

This music video, recorded in Hong Kong in 2007, is called Michael Tippett: Go Down, Moses.

The five spirituals, performed in Amsterdam, were: Steal away to Jesus; Nobody knows the trouble; Go down, Moses; By and by; and Deep river.

While they are Christian religious songs, based on the Bible, there is an undertone of the struggle for freedom in African American history, against slavery and discrimination. Eg, in parallels with the Bible story of ancient Israelites escaping from slavery in Egypt, led by Moses.

This undertone of secular opposition to oppression within religious music is also present in Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts. They frequently have the word ‘freedom’, sometimes in many languages. The Christian right in the USA did not like that, claiming that Ellington had ‘polluted’ religion with jazz.

This music video, recorded on 17 March 2013 in San Marino, is called Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts (Full Concert).

Duke Ellington wrote three Sacred Concerts. In 1993, a compilation of these three was arranged by John Hoybye and Peder Pedersen. The Amsterdam performance was based on that compilation.

There was much applause after the music stopped.

Beyoncé’s jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller


This music video shows saxophone player Tia Fuller from the USA, at the Beyoncé experience, live 2007.

By Chris Searle in Britain:

Beyonce‘s saxophonist dazzles with her own jazz band

Tuesday 13th October 2015

Tia Fuller
Decisive Steps and Angelic Warrior

For the seething altosaxophonist Tia Fuller, who plays in the all-woman band which accompanies Beyoncé, as well as in regular jazz formations, “playing in front of 16,000 people or 60 people it’s the same, because it’s all about people, transferring energy, uplifting and encouraging spirits and sharing the love of music.”

Born in Aurora, Colorado in 1976, the daughter of teachers in the Denver school system who were also musicians, her girlhood was full of the sounds of Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, as well as the piano of her sister, Shamie. Starting from the flute, she grew into the saxophone and by 1998 she had graduated in Music from Spelman College in Atlanta.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Tia Fuller – Touring with Beyoncé

30 November 2011

RockJazz caught Tia Fuller and her band recently in Chicago, where she discussed touring with Beyoncé, and the lessons she learned from the mega-shows Beyoncé stages.

The Chris Searle article continues:

In 2001 she moved into the jazz scene in New York, playing in stellar company with Jimmy Heath, Ralph Peterson, Don Byron and Jon Faddis, among many others, but it was in 2006 that another way beckoned when she became a featured horn in Beyoncé’s band, and thus began a strange coupling of jazz and superstar pop, while she also established a high reputation for teaching, both in Aurora state schools and at prestigious college level.

Her 201[0] album Decisive Steps has sister Shamie on piano and her drummate in Beyoncé’s band, Kim Thompson, with bassist Miriam Sullivan forming a central quartet, and male guests in Christian McBride (bass), Sean Jones (trumpet), vibesman Warren Wolf and tap dancer Maurice Chestnut.

Tia says that the fist altoist that she ever transcribed was Cannonball Adderley, and there is something of his fleeting brilliance in the album’s title tune opener, with Shamie’s pacy solo following her notes. These four women fly, their sonic union levitates, as it does on Windsoar, where Jones’s soft-toned trumpet joins the swooping, swallow-like sound.

Thompson’s emphatic drumbeat and McBride’s electric bass ground Tia’s dug-in notes in Ebb and Flow, where she sounds full of the earth before Jones’s soaring chorus. The old standard I Can’t Get Started gets a soulful unaccompanied intro by Tia before McBride’s acoustic bass throbs out into its heart and Wolf’s mallets put it into a new age. Kissed by the Sun has some groovy Shamie and a beautifully filigreeing soprano saxophone chorus from her sister, while Night Glow, written by Shamie’s husband Rudy Royston, gives Sullivan her moment, her bass sound ancestral but still palpitating.

Wolf’s lucid vibes match Tia’s luminous clarity and McBridge’s cavernous notes in Clear Mind, and in My Shining Hour it is the quartet pulsating out with a vibrant sisterly swing, Tia’s saxophone song full of verve.

In 2012 she released the album Angelic Warrior with Royston on drums. On the opener, Royston Rumble, Shamie and she set up a rapid pace before Tia’s alto comes leaping in and guest John Patitucci’s piccolo bass is also sprinting. The more sultry Ralphie’s Groove (dedicated to Peterson) features Tia’s lithe soprano and another virtuoso drummer, Terri Lyne Carrington, guests on the title tune, her complex drum patterns scattering under Tia’s melodic lead. The saxophone test-piece ballad, Body and Soul, is given a bass-emphatic performance in honour of Tia’s bass-playing father, while Dianne Reeves’s expressive vocal is a tribute to her singing mother. Tia’s horn bleeds with feeling, and in Descend to Barbados, a tribute to her bass player Mimi Jones and her Barbadian parents, her cadences fall like Caribbean rain.

Back to urban reality in Simpli-City, her horn, full of the streets, struts over Jones’s walking bass, and she ends with her salute to Beyonce, Ode to B, showing that her artistry finds no barriers between the very different genres that she plays within — “beyond category,” as Ellington used to say. And as Tia herself declares: “I think musicians are taking a step forward on both sides; we’re moving forward with combining all forms, and more people are accepting that concept, because it’s all interconnected. We, as people, are taking decisive steps.”

This music video from California in the USA says about itself:

12 January 2012

The Tia Fuller Quartet play the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre Cabaret at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts on the UC Davis Campus.

Tia Fuller Quartet: Tia Fuller, Alto and Soprano Saxophones; Mimi Jones, Bass; Rudy Royston, Drum; Rachel Eckroth, Piano.

United States jazz musician Jeremy Pelt on Eric Garner’s death


This music video says about itself:

1 November 2012

Jeremy Pelt Quintet in “We’ll Be Together Again” (Fischer-Laine), Live al Duc des Lombards – Paris

Jeremy Pelt trumpet, Roxy Coss sax, David Bryant piano, Dwayne Burno bass, Jonathan Barber drums.

By Chris Searle in Britain:

Art, protest and restless humanity, never quelled

Tuesday 21st July 2015

Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt echoes a nation’s grief as US police continue to target, hurt and kill innocent black men, writes CHRIS SEARLE

Tales, Musings and Other Reveries
(High Note HCD 7270)
Jeremy Pelt

IT WAS July 17 2014 on a busy shopping street in Staten Island, New York City. A 43-year-old African-American ex-horticulturalist from the New York Parks and Recreation Department, Eric Garner, was confronted by some police officers, accused of selling “loosies” — single cigarettes from unlicensed and untaxed packs.

An argument ensued, with an officer — one Daniel Pantaleo — putting Garner into a 15-second chokehold and forcing him face down onto the pavement.

Garner spluttered: “I can’t breathe!” 11 times while his head was held down. An ambulance was called, and by the time it arrived at the hospital an hour later, Garner was dead.

After a grand jury decided not to charge Pantaleo for murder, there were nationwide protests and demonstrations at yet another fatal police attack on an African-American, and the mass indignation spread into popular culture too. No more efficaciously than in the new album by the southern Californian-born trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, Tales, Musings and Other Reveries.

In his sleeve notes, Pelt remembers “witnessing Los Angeles go up in flames” after the broadcasting of footage showing police beating black taxi driver Rodney King following a high-speed car chase though the city’s streets in 1991, and the subsequent acquittal of the police officers.

In the track Ruminations on Eric Garner, the twin brutalities against King and Garner are brought together in Pelt’s powerful hornplay and the two sets of pulsating drums of Virginian Billy Drummind and Victor Lewis of Omaha, Nebraska.

Pianist Simona Premazzi and bassist Ben Allison are there in the introduction and fading finale, but all the rest is Pelt, Drummond and Lewis creating an incensed colloquy of brass, skin and cymbal, with the trumpeter’s high-pitched runs and soaring, defiant notes calling out like a clamour for justice, and the two drummers pitched in the earth of wronged and savaged humanity.

I Only Miss Her When I Think of Her, which follows, is very different, with Pelt’s beautifully bent notes and burnished tone singing of love and tenderness. Nephthys is songlike and full of rapture, with the drums and Allison’s throbbing bass dancing below Pelt’s high horn trajectory. Premazzi seems to love the two drummers beside her too, and her keys jump off their sound.

Pelt writes that the blues piece The Old Soul of the Modern Day Wayfarer is about him and “the soujourner in myself” as if the nomadic musical life and the perennial touring has in some way defined his sound. His note-perfect delivery brings into strange unity the form of Art Farmer and the fierce passion of Freddie Hubbard: quite a fusion of excellence and tradition.

The hard bop classic Glass Bead Games, written by the tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan, is transformed into a brass rhapsody by Pelt, flying above Lewis’s and Drummond’s pounding drums. Premazzi’s solo enriches the artistry before the drummers have their own palaver, loving their togetherness, prefacing Pelt’s final flourish as a salute to their union. Then there is Vonetta, written by another great tenorist, the survivor Wayne Shorter, for the 1967 Miles Davis album The Sorcerer. Pelt’s long, anguished notes reveal an unexpected tenderness in the heart of enchantment.

Pelt’s own Harlem Thoroughfare is a quasi-Ellingtonian title for another side of New York, and its village of black achievement. Premazzi’s solo is racked with complexities and Pelt is the griot and historian of his own dwelling place.

Pelt blows with a tender lucidity and Allison’s bass palpitates all through Everything You Can Imagine is Real, a dictum attributed to Picasso, whose Guernica is close to Pelt’s home, there in the New York Museum of Modern Art. The man who painted that would have understood Pelt’s artistry and his Ruminations on Eric Garner, that’s for sure. They come from the same soul of art, protest and restless humanity, never to be quelled or silenced.

Jazz musician Ornette Coleman, RIP


This video from the USA, about music recorded in 1959, is called Ornette ColemanLonely Woman.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Ornette Coleman, Jazz Innovator, Dies at 85

By BEN RATLIFF

JUNE 11, 2015

Ornette Coleman, the alto saxophonist and composer who was one of the most powerful and contentious innovators in the history of jazz, died on Thursday morning in Manhattan. He was 85.

The cause was cardiac arrest, a representative of the family said.

Mr. Coleman widened the options in jazz and helped change its course. Partly through his example in the late 1950s and early ’60s, jazz became less beholden to the rules of harmony and rhythm, and gained more distance from the American songbook repertoire. His own music, then and later, became a new form of highly informed folk song: deceptively simple melodies for small groups with an intuitive, collective language, and a strategy for playing without preconceived chord sequences.

Though his early work— a kind of personal answer to his fellow alto saxophonist and innovator Charlie Parker— lay right within jazz — and generated a handful of standards among jazz musicians of the last half-century — he later challenged assumptions about jazz from top to bottom, bringing in his own ideas about instrumentation, process and technical expertise.

See also here.