As you may have heard, Ornette Coleman died yesterday. I’ve enjoyed him at times, but I’ve never been a fan. And the reason doesn’t speak well of me: his work is too difficult — too demanding. His earliest work was fundamentally bebop, but even then with his trademark micro-tunings it is difficult — it’s really are an acquired taste.
My first introduction to him was Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation. Like most jazz that I heard when I was a kid, it sounded like noise to me. I just couldn’t hear it. Even today, it is hard to listen to. But at least now I experience the shape of the it and I appreciate how the musicians interact.
But I like his more constrained work. Here is a relatively recent performance of his best known tune, “Lonely Woman,” from his unquestionably great album, The Shape of Jazz to Come: