What have I learned from Ornette Coleman?

“The pattern for the tune will be forgotten, and the tune itself will be the pattern.”
-Ornette Coleman (from Ornette Coleman, A Harmolodic Life)

To me, there are certain musicians who deserve specific attention… who require deliberate study.  — The controversial, the innovative and the revolutionary — If we made a “Mount Rushmore” of jazz icons, these would be the faces carved in stone: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Bird/Dizzy/Monk/Bud, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and certainly Ornette Coleman. Each one made their place by breaking away from previously established conventions and each one providing us with a lifetime of lessons. Despite furious criticism about his unorthodox music & appearance, Ornette pushed forward with deliberate force, making his own way.ornette_downbeat

What I have learned from Ornette Coleman?

  • Never forget the blues/swing.
  • Always be yourself & be relentless in pursuing your vision.
  • The most gentle souls are sometimes the most ferocious artists.
  • Exploring music is also exploring yourself.
  • Honor your influences without neglecting your voice.
  • Melody is king.
  • Different shouldn’t be threatening.
  • Tell a story.
  • We create our own boundaries and our own categories, which only hold us back.
  • Search. Find your path, and follow it.
  • Use music as a conduit to the discovery of one’s self.
  • Harmony can be self-created.
  • It’s ok to be playful, humor in music is a wonderful thing.
  • Simplicity is difficult, but the goal.

“We’ve all gained from Ornette’s life and explorations.”
-Sonny Rollins