Ornette Coleman, Jazz Musician, Dies Aged 85

In this Monday, Oct. 23, 2006, file photo, jazz musician Ornette Coleman, front, performs with his quartet on the closing evening of the Skopje Jazz Festival, in Skopje, Macedonia. Coleman, the visionary saxophonist who pioneered "free jazz" and won a Pulitzer Prize in 2007, died, on Thursday, June 11, 2015 in New York. He was 85. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski, File)
In this Monday, Oct. 23, 2006, file photo, jazz musician Ornette Coleman, front, performs with his quartet on the closing evening of the Skopje Jazz Festival, in Skopje, Macedonia. Coleman, the visionary saxophonist who pioneered "free jazz" and won a Pulitzer Prize in 2007,  died, on Thursday, June 11, 2015 in New York. He was 85. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski, File)
In this Monday, Oct. 23, 2006, file photo, jazz musician Ornette Coleman, front, performs with his quartet on the closing evening of the Skopje Jazz Festival, in Skopje, Macedonia. Coleman, the visionary saxophonist who pioneered “free jazz” and won a Pulitzer Prize in 2007, died, on Thursday, June 11, 2015 in New York. He was 85. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski, File)

 

(New York Times) – Ornette Coleman, a self-taught alto saxophone player who was feted as an avant garde genius of jazz, has died in New York aged 85.

His 1959 album The Shape of Jazz to Come is considered one of the most groundbreaking in jazz history – he was credited with launching the free jazz movement – but he was never interested in labels, saying: “Music is an idea more than a style. All the styles – classical, funk, church – are played by exactly the same notes. Styles wear out like shoes.”

He unveiled his free jazz direction in November 1959, with a residency at the Five Spot club in New York. The performances divided jazz fans.

In 2007 (aged 77), Coleman won the Pulitzer Prize for music with his recording Sound Grammar, a document of a 2005 concert recorded live in Italy. After receiving the award, the saxophonist, trumpeter, violinist, composer, musical theorist and jazz revolutionary said: “I was very surprised. Just like a kid getting a big toy or something. I had no idea that that would occur.”

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