When saxophonist Ornette Coleman played clubs in Los Angeles in the mid-1950s, audiences often covered their ears and waited outside until his set was done. He shunned the conventions of melody and harmony and encouraged his bandmates to do the same, producing a sound too dissonant for mainstream tastes.
So in 1959, when the iconoclastic musician and composer blew into New York for a gig at the legendary Five Spot jazz club, hostility flowed — drummer Max Roach expressed his disapproval by punching Coleman in the mouth.
But the club was filled, night after night, for weeks. By the the end of his run, Coleman had launched a new kind of cool.
“He’s doing the only really new thing in jazz since the innovations of Parker, Gillespie and Monk,” pianist John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet said at the time.
Coleman, whose spontaneous approach to jazz improvisation and imaginative compositions stamped him as one of the most innovative and controversial figures of the post-bebop era and brought him a Pulitzer Prize for musical composition in 2007, died of cardiac arrest Thursday in New York, said his publicist, Ken Weinstein. He was 85.
Source: Los Angeles Times