The man who invented free jazz music with his groundbreaking 1960 album “Free Jazz”, a controversial saxophonist and composer who released many innvovative records over several decades like “This Is Our Music” (1961, notable at least for the brilliant “Beauty Is A Rare Thing”), “Science Fiction” (1971, with poetry recitations by David Henderson and vocals by Asha Puthli, recently re-staged in Berlin by The Bad Plus), “Song X” (1985, a duet recording with Pat Metheny), “Tone Dialing” (1995, with his group Prime Time featuring two guitarists and two basses which he later often used and which shifts from Free Jazz to Free Funk and features a hilarious Johann Sebastian Bach Prelude), or “Sound Grammar” (2006, a live album with his son Denardo on drums and percussion and Ornette not only playing alto, but trumpet and violin as well).
The last time I saw him was at the Northsea Jazz Festival in 2007 when he performed with three basses: Tony Falanga, Al MacDowell, and Charnett Moffett, and Denardo Coleman as well as Dominique Tackenburg. To my surprise, he was playing relatively short and catchy pieces, all had something to say, his tone and articulation borne out of world-encompassing wisdom and unapologetic truth.
He died yesterday in New York City. He was 85.